The Felony Division is responsible for prosecuting felony criminal offenses committed by adults (18 years of age and older) in Sangamon County.
What is a felony?
A felony is a crime for which a defendant may be sentenced to a term of incarceration of longer than one year.
How are felonies charged?
Felonies are charged when area law enforcement agencies forward police reports to the State’s Attorney’s Office. The reports are reviewed to determine whether probable cause exists, the type of evidence available for trial, and what, if any charges are appropriate. Victims of crime who wish to see charges filed may also meet with an Assistant State’s Attorney. While the interests of victims are extremely important, the State’s Attorney’s Office represents all the people of Sangamon County and not individual victims of crime.
What happens when charges are filed?
A defendant may be formally charged by information or indictment. If a defendant is charged by information, a preliminary hearing is required in which a Judge will determine whether there is probable cause to proceed with the case. If a defendant is charged by indictment, a Grand Jury has already determined that probable cause exists and no further finding is required.
There are two types of trials. In a “bench trial”, a judge hears all the evidence and decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. In a “jury trial”, a jury of 12 people is selected to hear all the evidence, and the jury, not the judge, decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty. In either case, if the defendant is found guilty, the Judge sentences the defendant.
Both the defense and the prosecution have the opportunity to make sentencing recommendations, but the Judge determines the sentence to be imposed. Depending on the type of crime, sentences can include but are not limited to prison/jail, probation, counseling, fines, restitution, and community service.
Things to remember
The interests of the victims of crime are extremely important; however, the State’s Attorney’s Office represents all the people of the County, not individual victims. Once the case is charged, the State’s Attorney has absolute discretion over how to proceed with the prosecution. Only the State’s Attorney’s Office has the authority to decide to “drop the charges.” Generally, once a prosecution has been initiated it will not be dismissed at the request of the complaining victim, unless injustice would result from the continued prosecution.