Q: How should I prepare for my preliminary hearing regarding a drug felony charge in Illinois?
I won't have a private attorney.
A: Ask that a public defender be appointed to your case.
A person who is charged with a felony in Illinois is entitled to a determination of probable cause, by a judge through the process of a preliminary hearing or by a grand jury. It is up to the prosecutor to determine whether the state proceeds via preliminary hearing or grand jury.
At a preliminary hearing, the state must call witnesses who are subjected to some cross-examination by defense counsel. The grand jury also hears testimony, which is NOT subject to cross-examination, and votes to return a true bill (finding of probable cause) or no bill. There are also some times where if there is a finding of no probable cause at the preliminary hearing and the case is dismissed, that the prosecutor can seek a true bill from the grand jury.
Although the standard of proof before the preliminary hearing judge or grand jury is probable cause, which is a much lower standard that after trial, there are times when a case is won at the preliminary hearing level.
If you are facing felony charges, you should contact an experienced defense attorney immediately.
This posting is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice nor the establishment of an attorney-client relationship between the parties.
Lori G. Levin
Attorney at Law
180 N. LaSalle, Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60601
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