After your arrest, you will have a bond hearing. At the bond hearing, the court will set the amount of bail necessary to permit your release from jail. In all likelihood, the State will argue for the Court to set the highest bond possible, or in some cases, to deny bond altogether. An experienced attorney can help present those factors most likely to persuade a particular judge to set a reasonable bail.

About a month after the bond hearing, your case will be set for a preliminary hearing, that is a hearing to establish whether the police had probable cause to charge you with a felony. An experienced attorney can help by asking the right questions to create doubt about whether the police had a valid reason to stop you. A successful preliminary hearing can result in the charges being dismissed.

At the next court date, you will be brought for arraignment, where you enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.  If you plead guilty, you will automatically give up many of your rights, such as the right to test the evidence against you. Your case may then be over, but you may end up with a stiffer penalty than if you fight the charges. If you enter a not guilty plea, the process of discovery begins. Your attorney will ask to see any evidence against you. After assessing this evidence, the attorney may negotiate a plea agreement or take your case to trial.

In Illinois, a felony can range from a Class 1 to a Class 4. In addition, Class X felonies are reserved for particularly severe offenses such as murder and sexual assault on a child. Penalties for a first offense in many cases may still result in probation, but some felonies carry mandatory minimum prison terms. If convicted, a Class X felony calls for a mandatory minimum term of 6 years.