Cook County is the most heavily populated county in Illinois with over 5 million residents, and of course, includes the City of Chicago, one of the largest cities in America. So the Cook County Criminal Courts are numerous, to support such a large county and the Chicago metropolitan area. With several locations in the city and surrounding areas, it takes a complicated road map to keep track of all of the components in this complex court system.
Of all the districts in Illinois, the Cook County Circuit Courts are the largest. There are over 400 judges working in the Cook County Courts with Chief Judge Timothy C. Evans overseeing them all. Interestingly, our district is also one of the largest unified court systems in the entire world!
What does this mean for you the defendant? Well, it likely makes you feel pretty small and intimidated when you are standing in those crowded hallways awaiting hearings that may affect the rest of your life. Having represented many criminal defendants in these very courtrooms, I know exactly what you are feeling.
County vs. Municipal Courts
There are a few Departments within the Cook County District Courts. Which court your case is heard in depends largely on the charges you are facing.
The Municipal Department handles misdemeanor, traffic, domestic violence, some felony criminal cases, and felony preliminary hearings. This is where the majority of criminal cases are heard and even if your case is carried over to the County Department, it will likely start here at the Municipal level.
The County Department of the Cook County District Courts sees the more serious felony charges. Within the County Department is a Criminal Division; cases of armed robbery, sexual assault, assault, and murder are heard here.
All of this can seem confusing even for someone who is educated in the criminal justice system. For people who are first being introduced because they are facing charges, the confusion can be overwhelming. Don’t try to figure it all out on your own, that’s what defense attorneys are there for.
Court Locations in Cook County
Just as there are several departments and divisions of the District Courts, there are also numerous locations. Luckily, the county tries to organize the locations according to their purpose. For instance, if you are an adult facing criminal charges, you won’t likely be seen at the South Hamilton courthouse because that is where juvenile matters are handled.
Despite this attempt to simplify, the sheer volume of criminal cases makes numerous courthouses and locations a necessity.
Many Municipal criminal cases involve an alleged crime committed within the city are seen at the South California Avenue Location. Domestic violence cases committed within the city, however, are typically heard at the West Harrison Street courthouse. In addition to these two locations, there are numerous outlying courts as well that handle criminal matters.
If you are facing a serious felony charge and going before the Criminal Division of the County Courts in the District, you will likely be spending the majority of your court time at the South California location as well.
As you can see, the locations are quite numerous and with several courtrooms at each location, it can be difficult to anticipate where you will go next.
Having been in the majority of the local criminal courtrooms, I know my way around the complicated mass that is the Cook County Circuit Courts. A local and experienced defense attorney can provide slight relief from all of the stress you are under during this trying time of your life.
During this time you need to be focused on your case, not where to be for your hearings. I can handle that for you, figuring out the details and going to bat for you in your time of need.
Contact me for a case evaluation and consultation on any Illinois criminal charge you face in Cook County courts.
More Cook County Law Enforcement Links
Cook County Sheriff – Inmate Locator