worried little girlThis is the next post in my series on the handling of child endangerment charges in Peoria and other Illinois areas. My last article discussed how search and seizure issues impact a child endangerment charge. Defendants should understand that if their arrest stems from law enforcement’s violation of their rights, then it may be possible to gain a dismissal. Such issues involve complicated areas of law and it is important that you retain an experienced attorney to assist you. I will be using this article to discuss what to expect when attending a trial in such matters. If you are in need of assistance, contact us today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

The trial process will begin with the selection of a jury. These potential jurors are chosen out of a “pool” of candidates from our local community. The defendant’s lawyer and the prosecutors will each ask questions of the potential jurors. This is a process known as voir dire. The Judge will also ask questions of the potential jurors. If it is clear from the answers that a potential juror cannot be impartial then the Judge may remove them from the pool for “cause.” The attorneys for each side will also be given a set number of challenges which they may use to remove potential jurors. A juror may not be removed from the pool for reasons involving race, gender, religion, or some other protected characteristic. The jury will be empaneled once the selection process has been completed.

Each side will make an opening statement after the completion of jury selection. Opening statements are not a time for argument. Instead, each side may tell the jury what evidence it is they can expect to hear and the conclusion which will be requested. The prosecution will then present its evidence and witnesses. The prosecution goes before the defense due to the fact that the burden of proof is on the state. The defense will then present its case. The prosecution will be given the opportunity to present “rebuttal” evidence once the defense has rested. Rebuttal is not a time for new issues to be raised by the prosecution. The prosecution, instead, may only use this time to address issues raised by the defense. Each side will make a closing argument after rebuttal has concluded.

The jury will begin its deliberations once closing arguments have been completed. The jurors must reach a unanimous decision in order for there to be a conviction. If the jury acquits the defendant, then the case is over and the accused individual cannot be charged a second time for the same conduct. If the jurors “hang,” meaning that they cannot agree on an outcome, then the prosecution will have the ability to charge the defendant a second time. Finally, if the defendant is convicted then he or she will then be sentenced at a later date. A defendant always has the right to appeal a criminal conviction.

If you or a family member are facing child endangerment charges then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria criminal defense lawyer. I am a former prosecutor who understands the serious nature of the situation. My office prides itself on providing the highest level of service and we believe that everyone is entitled to aggressive representation. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an initial consultation. I also service the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.