State’s Attorney FAQs

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How does a criminal charge get filed?

In the case of a felony, the LaSalle County State’s Attorney Felony Review Division prosecutors review information supplied by the investigating police department and determines which criminal charges best apply under the Illinois Compiled Statutes for Criminal Law.

Misdemeanor charges are determined by the investigating police department, except in certain situations where they are reviewed by the State’s Attorney’s Office. As misdemeanor cases are being prosecuted, the assistant state’s attorney on the case may file different or additional charges.

What do I do if I am a victim of a crime?

Immediately report the crime to your local police or the Sheriff’s Department.

The police will ask you questions regarding the incident and will then prepare a police report. The sooner you make the report the better the chances are that law enforcement officials can collect the evidence necessary to prosecute the crime.

What is a Felony?

A felony is a more serious criminal offense that upon conviction carries a possible sentence of imprisonment with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Initially, a date is set to determine whether or not there exists probable cause to believe the defendant committed the offense. The State either presents evidence of probable cause to a grand jury made up of sixteen citizens, or to the judge in a preliminary hearing.

If there is a finding of probable cause, the case is set for arraignment. at which time the defendant is formally charged with a criminal offense and is called upon to plead guilty or not guilty.

If the defendant pleads Not Guilty, a trial date is set. Felony cases do not always go to trial and may be resolved by a plea of guilty before trial.

A misdemeanor is a criminal offense that carries a maximum sentence of county jail time and fines upon conviction.

In a misdemeanor case, the defendant will plead guilty or not guilty during the first court appearance.

If there is a Not Guilty plea entered, a date is set for a status hearing. Many cases are resolved prior to trial.

If a resolution does not occur prior to trial, the case is set for trial and witnesses and victims are notified to appear if testimony is needed.

What is the difference between a criminal case and a civil case?

There is a difference in the law between civil and criminal cases.

The main differences are that imprisonment is not a remedy in a civil case and the burden of proof is greater in a criminal case.

In a civil case. the plaintiff need only prove his/her case by a preponderance of the evidence. Such a case can be filed even though the police and the State’s Attorney feel there is insufficient evidence to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Examples of cases which cannot be charged by the State’s Attorney include those situations in which someone owes you money and has refused to pay you back. To most people, this behavior is theft and the person ought to be charged with a crime. However, the law requires that the State prove that the person had the criminal intent to deprive at the time the person took possession of the money.

In most cases, this element is missing. Without evidence of criminal intent, the State’s Attorney would be unable to prove a criminal case beyond a reasonable doubt. In such a case, a small claims case can be filed in order to resolve the matter.

Are defendants required to attend all court dates?

Yes, unless their presence on a particular court date has been waived (excused) by the judge.

Are crime victim(s) or witnesses required to go to all court dates?

No. Victims and lay witnesses will be notified by subpoena to testify if the case goes to trial or contacted if there is a hearing requiring their presence. It is very important you notify the State’s Attorney’s Office of any changes in address or phone numbers from the time of the original police report.

Can victims attend court dates?

Yes. Courtrooms are open to the public with the exception of juvenile court. Victims are welcome to attend court proceedings; however, their presence is not required at all court dates. Victims will be subpoenaed or notified if their testimony is needed. Since victim presence is not required on all court dates, it is suggested victims call the working day before attending court to check if the case is still scheduled. Call the State’s Attorney’s office at 815-434-8340, if you do not know the assigned prosecutor or victim coordinator and ask for Katy Gapinski. Please have the name of the defendant and case number available.

What do I do if I receive a subpoena to testify?

To determine whether your testimony will be needed, you should call the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office at 815-434-8340 and speak to either the prosecutor or the victim-witness coordinator assigned to the case or courtroom. When you call, have the subpoena because it contains the defendant’s name, case number, courtroom. and other important information. If you are needed to testify, the State’s Attorney’s Office will work with you as best possible to keep to a minimum your time away from work, school, or other obligations. If you receive a subpoena and do not make direct contact with the prosecutor or assigned coordinator, then you must appear at the date and time the subpoena indicates.

What time does court start?

Court usually begins at 9 a.m. Lunch breaks are generally noon to 1:00 p.m. Hearings and Bench Trials typically begin at 11:00 A.M. or 1:00 P.M. Court hearings can be specially set by the court and vary in time. If you plan to attend any court dates it is suggested you call the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office one working day before with the defendant’s name and case number to check on the courtroom, time, and date. If there is a victim-witness coordinator assigned to the case it is best to check in with the coordinator. If they are aware you plan to attend the court date, the coordinator may be available to give additional assistance.

Can the State’s Attorney help me collect child support?

Pursuant to the Non-Support Punishment Act, 750 ILCS 16/1 et seq., the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office may initiate claims for payment of court ordered child support when the payor is a minimum of three months or more behind in child support payments.

Child support claims prosecuted by this office are limited to those cases that have been previously adjudicated in the Thirteenth Judicial Circuit Court of LaSalle County and to cases wherein both parties to the action reside within the State of Illinois.

This office does have the ability to garnish employment wages, but does not have the legal authority to garnish income tax returns or unemployment wages.

The primary child support agency within the State of Illinois is the Department of Healthcare and Family Services whose cases are prosecuted by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office. These State agencies have the ability to garnish income tax returns, unemployment wages and employment wages, and to handle all cases where one of the parties resides outside of the State of Illinois.

Contact with the Department of Healthcare and family  Services for child support services may be made by:
Call 1-800-447-4278
Visit their website, www.ilchildsupport.com
Visit the Division of Child Support Enforcement
DCSE Field Staff LaSalle County
690 Centennial Drive, Ottawa, IL 61350.

What is a bond hearing?

A bond hearing is held after the defendant is arrested. The judge determines whether the defendant is a danger to society and/or whether he/she will return to court for future court dates. The more serious the charge the higher the bond usually is. Once the bond amount is set, the defendant can post 10% to be released from custody. For example: a $10,000 bond would require posting $1,000 to be released. The court can impose specific conditions be placed such as a curfew, no contact with the victim, etc. Although bond is usually set in the early stages of the criminal case, the defense can ask for a bond review or modification of bond on future court dates.

How can I find out if the defendant is in custody?

Contact the LaSalle County Jail directly at 815-434-8383 to check on custody status or register with Automated Victim Notification System (AVN). The AVN automatically notifies registered citizens/victims by phone or email of a defendant’s release or custody status 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To register go online or call toll free 866-5-notify (866-566-8439) or TTY 866-502-2423.

Who determines the bond amount?

The judge determines the amount of bond. The prosecutor can request the judge to consider a high bond or request placing special conditions on the bond should the defendant be released from custody, such as no contact with victims, curfew, random drops, etc. Ultimately though, these decisions are up to the judge.

What should I do if the defendant violates bond by contacting me?

Call the police and make a report. This is to document what occurred, place, time, who was present, what was said if anything. Be sure to tell the reporting police officer that you are a victim in a pending criminal case and the defendant is out on bond with a no contact condition of that bond. Give the officer the name of the prosecutor handling the case. Next contact the prosecutor or victim-witness coordinator assigned to your case. A violation of bond could result if the defendant’s bond being raised or revoked at the next court appearance.

What is a Domestic Order of Protection?

A domestic order of protection is one tool that can help a victim of domestic violence gain independence and stop the abuser from hurting the victim or children. An order of protection and condition of bond are two separate remedies. For assistance obtaining a domestic order of protection please contact: ADV/SAS at 1-800-892-3375. If there is a pending criminal case please contact the victim-witness coordinator assigned to your case to assure you are aware of the status of the criminal case and notify her of any changes in address or contact information.

Who is eligible for a Domestic Order of Protection?

Any family or household members related by blood, or by current or former marriage, share or formerly shared a common dwelling (home), have or allegedly have a child in common, share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, have or had a dating or engagement relationship, are high risk adult with disabilities who is abused by a family member or car-giver.

What do I do if my Domestic Order of Protection is violated?

You should immediately call the police and file a police report. If there is a pending criminal case you should also notify the victim-witness coordinator and prosecutor assigned to your criminal case.

Can I drop charges against the defendant/offender?

No. In criminal prosecutions, the case is captioned the People of the State of Illinois vs the Defendant. The prosecutor takes into consideration what the victim would like to see happen in a criminal case, but the prosecutor, who is obligated to protect society, makes the final decision about whether a case proceeds or not.

Investigations & Charging

What do I do if I just had a crime committed against me?

Get to a safe place and immediately call 9-1-1 or the police department in the town in which the crime occurred. File a police report giving as many details as possible about what occurred, when, where, who was present, what was said, how you can be contacted, etc. The police will investigate the crime and will bring it to the attention of the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office for possible criminal charges, and the police will make an arrest, if appropriate. Always call the police first.

Who investigates a crime?

The police department in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred investigate the crime. When the police believe they have enough evidence to make an arrest they bring the information to the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Felony or Misdemeanor Review Division to file charges. The State’s  Attorney’s Office does not investigate crimes. That is the duty of the police.

Who determines what crime to charge the defendant?

In the case of a felony, the LaSalle County State’s Attorney Felony Review Division prosecutors review information supplied by the investigating police department and determines which criminal charges best apply under the Illinois Compiled Statutes for Criminal Law.

Misdemeanor charges are determined by the investigating police department, except in certain situations where they are reviewed by the State’s Attorney’s Office. As misdemeanor cases are being prosecuted, the assistant state’s attorney on the case may file different or additional charges.

What is an Indictment?

An Indictment is when the Grand Jury finds probable cause to charge the defendant.

What is an Arraignment?

An Arraignment is held at which time the defendant is present and formally charged with the crime and informed of his legal rights. Most defendants charged with violent felony crimes will plead not guilty initially at the arraignment date and be given future court dates to appear.

Will the defendant be sentenced the same day he/she is found guilty of a violent crime?

In violent-crime cases, a sentencing hearing is scheduled approximately 6 weeks after the trial ends. A pre-sentence investigation report (PSI) will be completed by the probation department for the judge to review before sentencing the defendant. The victim also has the right to present a victim impact statement (VIS) at the sentencing hearing. The VIS must be done in writing in conjunction with the State’s Attorney’s Office prior to the sentencing. Please contact the assigned victim-witness coordinator for assistance with the VIS.

What is a Sentencing Hearing?

A sentencing hearing is scheduled after a defendant changes his plea from a not guilty to a plea of guilty in front of the judge and has waived his/her rights to a trial, or after a trial and the defendant is found guilty of the crime. At the sentencing hearing the judge determines what is going to happen to the defendant as a result of committing the crime. Sentences can vary depending on the crime committed and a variety of factors taken into account. Violent-crime victims have the right to present a victim impact statement done in writing in conjunction with the State’s Attorney’s Office at the sentencing hearing.

What is a Pre-sentence Investigation report (PSI)?

The PSI is like a miniature biography on the defendant’s life and criminal history. It is a confidential report that only the prosecutor, defense, and judge is allowed to read. The report is written by the LaSalle County Probation Department and may contain a victim analysis section summarizing the impact the crime has had on the victim(s) in addition to facts about the defendant who is waiting to be sentenced for the crime committed.

What happens if the defendant is sentenced to the Department of Corrections (prison)?

The defendant will be transported to prison from the LaSalle County Jail. Inmates in prison can be tracked on the Illinois Department of Corrections website click on inmate search. It will show which prison facility the offender will be housed, which county he/she was sentenced in, and his/her tentative release date will be posted. You can also request in writing to be notified of the defendant’s status, or sign up with the automated victim notification system to be notified of changes in the inmate status.

How much actual time will a defendant serve on his incarceration sentence in the department of corrections (prison)?

Each sentence varies depending on the crime. Additionally offenders can receive credit for time served while in custody awaiting disposition. Most crimes are served 50% day for a day good time, some violent crimes are served at higher percentages; 85%. First degree murder is the only crime that is served at 100% of the sentence. It is best to get a full explanation of potential incarceration time from the prosecutor who handled the case.

Will the defendant be ordered to pay restitution?

Maybe. Restitution is the out of pocket expenses (not covered by insurance or other means) the victim has from medical bills and damages as a result of the defendant’s criminal actions against them. The prosecutor will seek restitution in criminal cases whenever documentation is provided and reasonable. Sometimes a restitution amount cannot be agreed upon and a hearing is requested for the judge to determine the amount. Victims are responsible to provide all necessary documentation for restitution. Situations where restitution would not be ordered in criminal cases would be a finding of not guilty or the defendant is sentenced to serve time in the department of corrections (prison) or documentation was not available, or the court does not find the amount reasonable through the criminal court, etc.

If restitution is ordered how does it get to the victim?

Restitution is paid through the LaSalle County Circuit Clerks office, not the State’s Attorney Office. It is very important crime victims update any change of address with the circuit clerk restitution division. Checks are not forwarded if the victim moves and does not update their address.

How long does the defendant get to pay restitution?

Depending on the sentence it could be months or years. Offenders may take their entire probation sentence time to pay restitution. Payments vary depending on the ability or inability for the defendant or co-defendants to pay.

What happens if restitution is not paid?

Although the judge may order restitution as part of the sentence. the defendant may still not pay or make full restitution through the criminal court. A petition to revoke could be filed for failure to pay and a hearing held. However unless it can be shown that the defendant willfully did not pay restitution and has the means to pay it, it is unlikely they would be penalized for not having the financial ability to pay restitution. If a defendant has successfully completed all other sentence terms, and/or some attempt to pay has been made, the court may terminate the case without payment of restitution.

What is the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Compensation Program and who is eligible?

The Crime Victim Compensation Program is through the Illinois Attorney General’s Office for victims of “violent crime that occurred in the State of Illinois or are an Illinois resident that was victimized in another state or country that does not have a Crime Victim Compensation Program. They provide direct financial assistance to innocent victims of “violent crime to reimburse out of pocket expenses related to the crime. They will assist violent crime victims and families of homicide that do not have any other means to cover medical, burial, counseling, support, etc.

Go to the Attorney General website. And click on crime victims or call the crime victims services toll free 1-800-228-3368. You may also contact your victim assistance coordinator in the State’s Attorneys office. The coordinator can assist you with questions and help with the application process. Compensation is not guaranteed. Applicants must meet the criteria listed for violent crime victims to apply.

If you are an uninsured, violent-crime victim who was hospitalized first check with the hospital to apply under the Illinois Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act. (IHUPDA) This requires hospitals to give discounted care to eligible uninsured Illinois residents. Victims of violent crime may also apply to the Attorney General’s Crime Victim’s Compensation Program. Applications can be retrieved online at or calling 1-800-228-3368 (TTY: 1-877-398-1130.)

In other cases, all documentation of bills should be forwarded to the investigating police department and also copies should be mailed or faxed to the prosecutor or victim coordinator assigned to your case as soon as possible. If the defendant pleas or is sentenced, they could be ordered to pay restitution as part of the sentence. Restitution will also be ordered in criminal court cases wherever practical and possible. Unfortunately it is not always realistic in criminal cases for restitution to be ordered or paid, such as in severe injury involving several thousands of dollars, or when violent offenders are sentenced to prison for a long time such as in murder.

Illinois Attorney General website.

Will I have to testify in court?

Maybe. Your testimony would be required during a trial, or possibly at a special hearing date. However, only a small percentage of criminal cases actually go to trial. The majority of defendants eventually admit guilt in criminal cases and plead guilty. Commonly, this occurs in one of two ways: in a negotiated plea, the prosecutor and the defense agree to a sentence. and they present the plea to the judge for approval; alternatively, defendants sometimes simply plead guilty and the judge determines the sentence. If the defendant maintains his or her innocence in court and requests that the State prove criminal charges at trial, then victims and witnesses are subpoenaed to testify in court. Even if there is no trial, however, witness testimony is sometimes necessary or appropriate. For example, if the defendant pleads guilty to a crime, the victim of a violent crime may want to present a victim impact statement at the time of the plea or at the sentencing hearing.

What do I do if I receive a subpoena to testify?

To determine whether your testimony will be needed, you should call the LaSalle County State’s Attorney’s Office and speak to either the prosecutor or the victim witness assistance coordinator assigned to the case or courtroom. When you call, have the subpoena with you, because it contains the defendant’s name, case number, courtroom, and other important information. If you are needed to testify, the State’s Attorney’s Office will work with you as best possible to keep to a minimum your time away from work, school, or other obligations. If you receive a subpoena and do not make direct contact with the prosecutor or assigned coordinator, then you must appear at the date and time the subpoena indicates.

What should I do if the defense attorney or investigator contacts me?

The defense team (defendant’s attorney and/or investigator) represents the defendant in the case. It is strictly your decision whether to speak to the defense or not to speak to them. If you choose to speak to the defense and would like to have the prosecutor present you can request this. You should always request identification before speaking to unknown persons.

What are the responsibilities of a witness to a crime?

If you are a witness to a crime you may be subpoenaed to testify if the case goes to trial. Being called to testify as a witness is a big responsibility. A witness who testifies in a criminal case plays an important role within the justice system by assisting authorities in holding offenders accountable for the crimes they perpetrate against innocent victims. The police, state’s attorneys, judges, and juries could not make informed decisions without the cooperation of truthful witnesses.

How long will I be in court?

Your actual testimony in court may not take long, but your wait before testifying depends upon many factors. We will do our best to minimize your time however there may be several circumstances beyond our control. You should plan on at least a half day. The prosecutor or assigned coordinator will be able to give you some direction in this matter.

Can a friend or relative be in court when I testify?

Yes, as long as they are not witness or have been subpoenaed to testify in the case. There is normally an exclusion of witnesses listening to other witness testimony. You would not be allowed to sit inside the courtroom after testifying until both sides have finished witness testimony. If you are going to bring someone in support, it is suggested that you introduce them to the coordinator or prosecutor on the case. There is certain court protocol that they may not be aware of and would be helpful for them to know.

Will the defendant be in the courtroom when I testify?

Yes. The defendant is the accused and has the right to hear testimony and evidence brought against him/her. In most cases the defendant is represented by a defense attorney who will be able to ask victims or witnesses questions on behalf of the defendant at trial. The prosecutor and victim coordinator will meet with you in advance of trial to answer any questions or concerns you may have before testifying.