You are currently viewing HOW THE CRIMINAL SYSTEM WORKS


  • Law enforcement observes a crime occurring or somebody reports a crime.
  • Law enforcement investigates the crime.
  • Law enforcement develops a suspect for the crime.
  • Law enforcement believes they have probable cause (P.C.) to arrest the suspect.
  • Law enforcement arrests the suspect (on scene, later, or by written arrest).
    • If arrested for a low level crime, officers may give the person a written arrest, requiring the Defendant to show up in court
      • (failure to appear will result in an arrest warrant)
    • If the suspect has left the scene, law enforcement may arrest them later or notice them in writing.
    • If arrested and taken to jail, bond is normally set;
      • Some crimes are so heinous, that no reasonable bond will ensure public safety.
      • In some situations, the State Attorney may request more time to investigate a case before a Judge sets a bond.
      • A defendant arrested for a violation of probation is not entitled to bond.
  • If Bond is set, the Defendant can either
    • bond out with a bail bond agency
      • (often 10% of the total bond amount) or
    • wait to see a judge
      • (within 24 hours of arrest).
    • If the Defendant cannot afford to bond out of jail before seeing the judge, he or she will be brought before a judge for first appearance court for an advisory bond hearing (within 24 hours of arrest).
      • At the first appearance hearing, the Judge will either
        • leave bond as set (or set bond),
        • increase the bond (if the State Attorney requests or the facts otherwise require further investigation),
        • lower the bond,
        • or release the Defendant on his or her own recognizance (free).
  • Defendant
    • is released on his or her own recognizance,
    • pays the bond,
    • pays a bondsman to pay the bond (approx. 10% of total bond amount), or
    • can’t afford the bond and stays in jail until the case is resolved.

An arrest does not guarantee that formal charges will be filed against you. After making an arrest, law enforcement send their investigations to the State Attorney’s Office to review and decide whether or not to prosecute. Sometimes, the State Attorney decides not to prosecute a case, even though law enforcement made an arrest.

An attorney can represent your version of the facts to the State, before formal charges are filed, sometimes resulting in reduced charges or no charges at all. Furthermore, just because formal charges are filed against you, does not mean you will be convicted.

The sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner the attorney can begin working on your case and DEFENDING YOUR RIGHTS; preserving evidence, gathering witness statements, talking to the State Attorney and involved law enforcement officers, etc…

to REVIEW YOUR CASE and YOUR RIGHTS (813) 833-0880