If a police officer stops me, what information do I have to give him?

First off, if a police officer merely approaches you and asks you questions, you are under no obligation to answer and can simply walk away. However, if a police officer detains you (if you reasonably believe that you are not free to leave), you only have to provide the officer with your name.  There is no requirement to provide any identification to the officer.

Remember, this is applicable for police officers who stop you while walking.  If you are stopped while driving, you must also provide the officer with: (1) your driver's license; (2) your vehicle registration; and (3) your proof of vehicle insurance.

If I am stopped for a DUI/DWI, do I need to blow into a breathalyzer?

No.  If you are pulled over due to a suspicion of driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated, you are not required to blow into a breathalyzer.  However, if you do not blow, your license may be suspended for 12-months instead of 6-months. To learn more about breathalyzers, read our blog post on why you may be asked to blow twice in Illinois.

How can I locate someone in police custody?

You can check in a few different locations:

A bench trial is a trial where only the judge hears the evidence and decides the verdict.  A jury trial is a trial where a jury hears the evidence and together determine the verdict.  A jury in Illinois consists of 12 jurors that are selected by both defense counsel and the State's Attorney.

What is the difference between a bench and jury trial?

Simply described, a misdemeanor is a less serious offense than a felony.  Whether or not a violation of the law is considered a misdemeanor or felony is based upon the maximum possible sentence.  A misdemeanor is a violation that cannot have a sentence of more than 364 days in a county jail.  A felony is a violation that may have a sentence of more than a year in prison (penitentiary). 

What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

The U.S. Constitution protects people suspected of criminal activity through the 5th and 6th Amendments. The 5th Amendment grants you a right to remain silent and the 6th grants you a right to have a lawyer present during questioning. Invoking these rights is CRITICAL. You should not voluntarily give up these writes by consenting to questioning without an attorney present.

Miranda warnings are supposed to be given whenever a suspect is in custody and under interrogation, but that does not mean that you have to be at a police station. You should be given Miranda warnings if the police are questioning you and you do not feel free to leave.

 You must explicitly state to the police that you (1) invoke your right to remain silent and (2) invoke your right to have an attorney present. Once you have done that, you are under NO obligation to speak to the police. If you do begin speaking to the police on your own after invoking your rights, the police may consider this consent to waive your rights, and whatever you say after that point may be used against you, so it’s safest not to speak unless you are asking for something very basic, like to go to the bathroom.

Miranda warnings are derived from a 1966 U.S. Supreme Court case. Usually, the police Miranda warnings will be something like the following:

  1. You have the right to remain silent.
  2. If you do say anything, what you say can be used against you in a court of law.
  3. You have the right to consult with a lawyer and have that lawyer present during any questioning.
  4. If you cannot afford a lawyer, one will be appointed for you if you so desire.
  5. If you choose to talk to the police officer, you have the right to stop the interview at any time.

What are my "Miranda Rights?"

What usually happens during the booking process?

  1. Officers will take down your name.
  2. The crime you have been charged with will be recorded.
  3. The accused's "mugshot" will be taken.
  4. Your personal property will be taken and inventoried. You may want to ask police for an inventory receipt to ensure that everything was properly recorded and that you get all of your items back. Upon release, these items should be returned to you. 
  5. Fingerprints are taken.
  6. Police will conduct a full body search – a "strip search."
  7. A check for outstanding warrants will likely be done.
  8. Health screening.
  9. Officers may ask about gang affiliations and other similar information in order to separate persons inside the jail to avoid conflicts. Note: statements made to a booking officer aren't protected by Miranda. Booking is considered an administrative procedure, which doesn't require provision of legal counsel.
  10. Police may take a DNA sample. 

If an informant is planted in my jail cell, are statements I make to him/her admissible in evidence?

Yes! To be safe, never talk to anyone (except for your attorney) about any alleged charges that are pending against you. 

What is a search warrant?

A court issued order that specifies the location police officers are allowed to search and the items for which the police may search. Generally, anything outside of the scope of the search warrant is an impermissible search. For example, if a search order says that a police officer may search the home for a stolen television, then it would be improper for the police officer to search in a kitchen drawer as a TV cannot fit in a kitchen drawer. If you suspect that you have been subjected to an illegal search, there is a chance that we can challenge the by a pre-trial motion.

If a police officer comes to your home and asks to search it, make sure you ask for a search warrant first. If you are given one, make sure to keep a copy of it. If the officer does not have a search warrant, it is within your rights to refuse to allow the search. It is not a good idea to a consent to a search without a warrant. 

How quickly after a person is arrested does s/he get a bail hearing?

A suspect should have a bail hearing or an arraignment within 48 hours of being booked. However, the 48 hours may be extended if there is a holiday or weekend between the time of booking and the first court appearance.

Note that a judge has the authority to raise or lower the bail amount set at this hearing if new information emerges after the hearing.

What is arraignment?

An arraignment is a brief court hearing during which the defendant gets written notice of the charges the State is filing against him/her. At this hearing, the defendant will plead either guilty or not guilty.

In addition to pleaing, the following can happen at an arraignment hearing:

  • the judge may appoint counsel; 
    • if the defendant cannot afford counsel and is facing possible jail time, the judge will appoint a public defender
    • if defendant can afford counsel, the judge will continue to case in order to allow the defendant to obtain private counsel
    • it is best that you have an attorney with you at the very beginning of the case, so ideally, you should hire an attorney either before or shortly after the arraignment hearing
  • a bail hearing may be held; and
    • a judge may reset a previously decided bail amount for various reasons, and the bail amount may be either lowered or made higher depending on the circumstances
  • set a date to hear pretrial motions or other hearings.


My case was dismissed at arraignment, does double jeopardy prevent the State from charging me again on the same facts?

No. If the statute of limitations (period of time within which the state must charge you with a crime or forfeit the possibility of charging) has not yet expired, the State can charge you again with the same case.  

A preliminary (prelim) hearing is a probable cause hearing during which a judge hears the State's basic evidence of the crime with which you are charged. After hearing the evidence, the court decides whether or not the State has presented enough evidence to show that it has probable cause to require the defendant to go to trial for the charged offense.

Basically, the State has to provide proof that it has at least a minimum amount of evidence that is sufficient enough to show that a crime did occur, and that the person charged with it mostly likely committed that crime.

A grand jury is a group of sixteen citizens who determine whether or not the State has probable cause to charge certain persons with certain crimes. They have expansive investigatory powers, which include the ability to subpoena witnesses. 

What is a grand jury?

A summons is a court order that commands an individual to appear before the court at the date and time stated on the summons. If the summoned persons fails to appear on the stated date and time, s/he may end up with a warrant issued for his/her arrest.

What is a summons?