Criminal Bureau- The Criminal Division encompasses the large majority of criminal cases in St. Clair County. This includes the Violent Crimes Unit, Domestic Violence and Special Victim’s Unit, General Felony Unit, and Traffic/Misdemeanor Unit. The Criminal Division also oversees the St. Clair County Grand Jury.
Violent Crimes Unit: The Violent Crimes Unit is responsible for prosecuting the large majority of violent crime in St. Clair County. The experienced prosecutors of this unit work daily to bring to justice those who terrorize the streets of St. Clair County. These cases include homicide, armed robbery, aggravated battery, and certain sex offense.
Domestic Violence and Special Victim’s Unit: This unit was originally the Domestic Violence Unit but now has become the Domestic Violence and Special Victim’s Unit. The unit is responsible for prosecuting all cases involving domestic violence, violation of orders of protection, and certain sexual offenses. This unit was originally formed to recognize, as stated in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, that domestic violence is “a serious crime against the individual and society which produces family disharmony in thousands of Illinois families, promotes a pattern of escalating violence which frequently culminates in intra-family homicide, and creates an emotional atmosphere that is not conducive to healthy childhood development.” 750 ILCS 60/102(1). Domestic violence and sex offenses pose a distinct danger to the community and citizens of St. Clair County. The attorneys specialize only in those cases and utilize vertical prosecution. The same prosecutor who charges the case, will generally see the case through to a disposition.
Specialty Courts and Alternative Dispositions: These are alternative types of prosecution or sentencing. For defendants, these programs are a privilege and not a right. Applicants for each of the following programs are screened by the Special Prosecutions Division to ensure that only qualified candidates that are serious about succeeding are allowed entry into the programs.
Drug Court- Incarceration is an incredibly expensive proposition, especially considering the current budget constraints in Illinois. According to the National Institute of Corrections, housing an individual in the Illinois Department of Corrections costs approximately $38,000 per year. Oftentimes, the prison system fails to offer potential for rehabilitating and treating those with serious drug problems. Once an inmate serves his time and is released, the cycle then begins again leading to another round of incarceration. The cycle of addiction and criminal activity just repeats itself over and over again. Drug Court is an intensive two-year program that was designed to rehabilitate individuals with severe drug addictions that lead them to commit non-violent crimes. Individuals are closely monitored by the State’s Attorney’s Office, the Court, and the Probation Department on a weekly basis, and undergo multiple weekly random drug tests. They also must comply with all of their drug treatment requirements to complete the program. These individuals tend to have criminal histories, but have demonstrated a desire to work hard to finally overcome their addictions and become productive members of society. If defendants take seriously their obligations under the drug court program, stay clean and sober, and complete the program, then their criminal charges on the underlying offenses will be dismissed.
Veterans Court- Many men and women have proudly served in the United States Armed Forces and sacrificed greatly in doing so. That military service can sometimes take a serious toll on those individuals: physically, emotionally, and mentally. Veteran’s Court was designed as a way of recognizing that toll and offering Veterans who have committed non-violent criminal offenses the opportunity to seek services through the Veteran’s Administration to get back on the right track and to again become contributing members of society. Individuals who complete the Veteran’s Court Program will have their criminal cases dismissed at the end of the program.
Mental Health Court- Mental Health Court was designed as a way to assist those with mental health issues to get treatment and move beyond the criminal activity which landed them in Mental Health Court. These individuals generally have been charged with a non-violent offense, have little-to-no criminal history and have been diagnosed with a serious mental illness. These individuals tend to be people who do not need to have their records marked with a criminal offense so long as they are willing to work to overcome whatever mental illness they are battling. Mental Health Court defendants are provided with psychological and therapeutic services to deal with their issues and ensure their rehabilitation. If they are able to complete the program, their charges are dismissed.
Offender Accountability Program- The Offender Accountability Program gives pre-screened participants the opportunity to successfully complete program requirements as an alternative to conventional criminal prosecution. Requirements include community service, mandatory drug testing, payment of Program costs, attendance at offender accountability classes, and payment of any applicable fines and fees. This program is a way to hold offenders accountable for their actions at no cost to the tax payers of St. Clair County as the Offender Accountability Program is entirely funded by the offender. Upon successful completion of this program, the underlying criminal charges are dismissed.
Adult Redeploy Initiative- Redeploy is a grant-funded program for those individuals who have mental health issues. It is similar to Mental Health Court in terms of the mental health treatment component, but is distinct in that even if the program is completed, a criminal conviction remains. The program is unavailable to those charged with violent offenses and acts as a last alternative to prison for people with mental health issues. This means that Redeploy defendants may have some prior criminal history, but they have also shown themselves to be potential candidates for rehabilitation if their mental health issues are addressed.