First Offense Felonies

First Time Felony

When someone is arrested and charged with a crime for the very first time in their life, it can be a truly horrific and traumatic experience. First, there is the underlying confrontation that led to police involvement. This may have been a routine traffic stop or possibly being in the wrong place during a raid. This trauma is further compounded when police physically detain a person the first time. The feeling of helplessness and captivity is unbearable for many. For those who have not experienced it, there really is no good way to explain having your very physical mobility taken away, being “captured,” placed into handcuffs, being vulnerable and scared, then being forcefully moved about and locked away where you cannot contact those you love or even have freedom over your everyday activities.

Made worse, then there are the court dates, hearing strangers read off a list of allegations against you in public in front of the world. Being paraded through halls, police stations, detention centers, Sheriff’s vans, and being kept in shackles when in public? All these experiences can lead a person to feel grim and depressed and defeated.

At Crossroad Legal, we see you. We understand that you are afraid, worried about your family, your future, and all the things you cannot tend to right now. And we’ve got your back.

What Happens to First Offender Felony Charges in Illinois?

The first time you commit a felony, you will be held in jail until bail can be set by a judge. Due to recent reforms in Illinois’ cash bail system, you will likely not be detained for very long, unless the prosecutor holds a bail hearing and is able to establish that you are a flight risk or pose a credible threat of harming someone in the community. But a bail amount is still set, whether you are required to post it to gain release or not.  In the majority of criminal cases in Illinois, there are several key court dates and terms you should be aware of:

Indictment or Information. The prosecutor (aka State’s Attorney) will decide what charges he or she wants to bring. This is entirely up to them. To initiate a case against you, they must file an “Information.” This lays out the criminal statute that has allegedly been violated and a very brief description of what the State believes the defendant did. In many cases, the prosecutor will take the issue to a grand jury (different from a regular trial jury) and seeks an Indictment. This is a formal finding that there was probable cause to arrest you, and it is done entirely out of your sight without you present and without you having any right to counsel. And it is entirely legal. Once an indictment is returned, the State no longer has to hold a preliminary hearing to prove probable cause.

First Appearance (First Advisement). During this very brief court appearance, you will probably not have an attorney yet. Therefore, the judge will simply read you the charges and advise you or the potential sentencing options available if you are convicted. This is NOT a time for you to speak to the judge or plead your case. You should be respectful and say nothing. Ask for an attorney and say absolutely nothing more.

Preliminary hearing (Probable Cause Hearing). Where applicable and assuming no indictment is returned by the grand jury, the court will hold a small evidentiary hearing to allow the State a chance to prove that there was probable cause for your arrest. This is a very low standard to meet, and in about 99.5% of all probable cause hearings, the State will prove probable cause. You should still strongly consider fighting it for a host of reasons, unless your attorney advises differently.

Arraignment. This is a formality at best, during which the judge simply re-reads your charges and sentencing ranges and asks for your plea of either guilty or not guilty. At this stage, you should always plead not guilty until you and your attorney have time to review the evidence. You can always change your plea later, once an attorney is involved.

Bond Reduction Hearing. If you are held on bond and the amount is excessive, your attorney may suggest attempting a bond reduction. This is where you plead with the judge to reduce or eliminate your bond so that you can defend the case from outside of custody. Some crimes allow for you to get credit each day that you are confined. Other crimes do not. It is always easier to defend a client who is out of custody. That said, sometimes a bond reduction is not wise. This is all a matter of legal strategy to discuss with a skilled criminal defense lawyer in your area.

Pretrial Conferences. While the case is pending and working its way toward a trial, there will be routine status dates in court, where you and your attorney must appear and report to the judge what is happening. Are the parties negotiating a plea? Will there be a trial? Are there motions to hear? These are routine and it is rare for anything big to happen at them, but you must be there.

Final Pretrial Conference. About a week or two prior to a jury trial, most judges will require a final pretrial conference so that the attorneys can debate final matters, ensure that everyone is prepared for trial, and discuss other procedural matters.

Jury Trial. The gold standard for a lawyer is to have skillfully and successfully defended a criminal felony to trial. Crossroad Lawyers are skilled trial lawyers who have successfully prosecuted and/or defended felonies to trial. Not all lawyers have actually done this, so it is important to work with one who has.

Options for First Offense Felony Charges

If you are charged with a felony for the first time, there may be several options for avoiding prison. These can at times include:

  • First Offender Probation
  • Second Chance Probation
  • TASC Probation (Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities)
  • Offender Accountability Diversion Programs
  • Conditional Discharge
  • Standard Probation (24-48 months)
  • Bootcamp
  • Drug Treatment Courts
  • Veterans Treatment Courts
  • County Jail vs. Prison
  • Weekend Jail

How to Hire Crossroad Legal Today

It all starts with a free 30-minute consultation. You can schedule your appointment by simply calling the number below anytime day or night to speak with one of our experienced Crossroad Lawyers! If you decide to move forward and hire us, there will be an initial retainer that you can pay via cash, credit card, debit card, check, or e-check online. Please note that our firm does not accept payment plans for criminal defense matters. However, we do accept bond assignments. Please discuss with the attorney during your consultation if you would like to pay by bond assignment.

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(618) 515-5555

You may also complete the contact form on this page, and someone will call you back during business hours the next business day.


Please note if you have a loved one in jail, do not discuss the case through “Chirps” or jail video or phone calls. Those calls are recorded and will be used against the defendant. If you speak with your loved one, instruct them to …


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    At Crossroad Legal, we offer free consultations for all potential personal injury, auto accident, and nursing home negligence cases. However, due to the extremely high number of inquiries we receive every day, we must charge a nominal consultation fee in order to schedule any criminal defense or FOID Card Appeal consults.