The District Court State’s Attorney’s Office tries “misdemeanor” cases, which include second degree assault; thefts; trespass; harassment; and fraud; as well as traffic cases and certain felonies. There are no jury trials in District Court. All cases are heard by a judge who decides the verdict based upon the evidence presented. In cases which a sentence may be greater than 90 days, a defendant has the right to have the case moved to Circuit Court for a jury trial. Assistant State’s Attorneys in this division prosecute more then 4,000 cases a year.
How are charges filed?
Charges may be filed against an individual, by either a police officer or a citizen. When charges are filed by an officer, they may either arrest the individual at the scene, if there is probable cause, or apply for a criminal summons with the District Court Commissioner.
When a citizen wants to file charges they must go to the District Court Commissioner who will decide if criminal charges are appropriate and determine whether an arrest warrant or criminal summons should be issued.
If the District Court Commissioner determines that an arrest warrant is appropriate, it is then forwarded to the local police agency for service. The defendant will then be located, arrested and processed, at which time a trial date will be set.
If the Commissioner determines that a criminal summons is appropriate, a summons is issued and forwarded to the local police agency, who in turn notifies the defendant that they have been charged, and provides them with the trial date, and a copy of the statement of charges.
When a citizen files criminal charges, the State’s Attorney’s Office will prosecute the case for the victim. The citizen does not need to hire an attorney, but the citizen should work closely with the State’s Attorney’s Office.
After criminal charges are filed, only the State’s Attorney can dismiss the charges.
The State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to the aggressive prosecution of DWI (driving while intoxicated) cases. We routinely file enhanced penalty notices in cases involving persons who have been convicted previously of DWI. We actively seek sentences that not only punish offenders, but that are also aimed at treatment and rehabilitation for those problem drinkers. In addition, we aggressively seek alternative sentences that are appropriate, including substance abuse counseling, attendance of offenders at impact panels, alcohol restricted licenses, and the installation of ignition interlock devices in the offenders vehicles.