You’ve Been Arrested in Illinois. Now What? A Lawyer Explains…


Getting arrested is one of the most traumatic, stressful and difficult times in a person’s life. But despite the gravity of the situation, you need to keep your wits about you.

This short guide will help you understand what happens after you’ve been arrested, and the steps you can take to protect your rights and prepare for an adequate defense.

What happens after the handcuffs?

If arrested (say for a felony), you will be taken into “custody” or “down to the station” as they say in the movies. Once in custody, the court will bring you in front of a presiding judge for what’s called an arraignment. At the arraignment, you will plead either “guilty” or “not guilty” based upon your individual choice and the guidance given by your representing counsel (i.e. attorney). After your arraignment, hearing dates will be set.

The criminal justice system is a complex jungle for the average citizen to navigate, and in many cases the laws are neither easy to interpret nor understand. This is why we strongly advise scheduling a free, no-commitment consultation to better understand your options. 

The following represents a few critical next steps to take in the unfortunate event of your arrest.

Remember, you’re NOT a criminal

By right of law, every individual is “innocent until proven guilty”. So while you may not be treated as such by the guards, remember that all is not lost. You are not guilty. Take a breath, calm your mind, and let your criminal defense attorneys do the heavy lifting.

Often, the most critical time to obtain the best outcome for your future is right after the arrest. This is THE best time to speak with an attorney, before you may inadvertently make a mistake that could cost you dearly. Police are great, but they are not what you would call ‘friends’ in this situation. Along with the prosecutors, they have a job just to do just like everyone else. Only in this case, their job is to pursue a successful criminal conviction.

Unfortunately, the justice system is not foolproof and mistakes happen. Prosecutors and police officers get the wrong idea of what happened or who may have committed a crime. This leads to wrongful convictions and could directly impact your freedom.

Understand the Charges

One of the most important first steps after an arrest is to better understand the actual charges being brought against you. Specific factors or circumstances in your situation may alter both the charges and the potential consequences in either a favorable or unfavorable way. An experienced attorney such as those at our firm will help you navigate these waters. 

We have created two excellent resources for anyone in Illinois who needs information about a specific charge: 

The Felony Illinois Handbook 
The Misdemeanor Illinois Handbook

A big advantage of working with an attorney is that you get an insider’s look at what happen in your case. Typically, attorneys have seen your situation before and may even know how your judge typically rules in such cases. All of this trade information can be used to your advantage so you know what charges your facing AND the best route of action for you to take to stay out of jail and keep your freedom.

Know the difference between “facts” and “allegations”

False accusations happen day in and day out. In a court of law however, what is important is what actually happened, not just what someone said happened. Work with your counsel to uncover the facts of the case and evidence that can either support your claims or negate the those of the opposing counsel.

This is where it’s important to assert your rights to have an attorney present during all questioning. It’s a common practice for police and investigators to apply pressure, use false information or other tactics to illicit a favorable response for their case. Without even knowing it, you may have inadvertently volunteered information that they will later use to charge you or continue to investigate you. Even if you’re completely not guilty, that will not always protect you. So, it’s important no matter you’re situation to hire an attorney.

Follow your Marching Orders

If ever there was a time to follow the rules to the letter, it is now. Many times courts put special instructions or orders in place for those awaiting trial and it is vitally important that you follow these and any other orders given to you by your attorneys.

This is something that your attorney will speak to you in detail about. Depending on your situation, you may need to attend drug treatment, do voluntary community service or other measures that could have a positive impact on your case. Regardless, a good attorney will be responsive and specifically outline all the items you should do in order to give yourself the best outcome possible.

Final Word on Being Arrested in Illinois

As lawyers, we passionately believe that everyone facing a criminal charge should seek representation. Even if you can’t afford a lawyer, there are options available to you that will help protect your rights and obtain the best outcome for your situation. Whether you choose our firm or not, we still believe that you’ll be better off speaking with an experienced attorney before taking substantive action in a criminal case in Illinois.

We offer all prospective clients a free initial consultation and would be more than happy to answer all your questions before establishing a relationship.

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