Illinois misdemeanors carry a maximum punishment of a fine and less than one year in jail. Crimes for which a person may be punished by more than one year in jail or in prison are categorized in Illinois as felonies.
Though they are less serious, misdemeanors are still crimes which include arrest, mugshots and fingerprinting. A misdemeanor can mean a permanent criminal record that may harm both educational and job prospects. Though rare, a person who leaves Illinois when wanted by law enforcement for a misdemeanor may be subject to extradition.
Same Act Twice, a Misdemeanor First Time, a Felony the Second Time
Many crimes are misdemeanors on the first offense but become felonies on the second offense. For example, retail theft of property valued at less than $150 is a misdemeanor the first time. A second conviction of retail theft (shoplifting) may be charged as a felony.While a felony must be approved by a state’s attorney before charges can be filed, police officers are authorized to file criminal complaints for misdemeanors without the approval of the state’s attorney. With the exception of a grand jury indictment or preliminary hearing the criminal process for a misdemeanor as for a felony is generally the same. Often bond for misdemeanors are set by rule of court, which allows for an arrestee’s release on bond without appearing before a judge.
In Illinois, misdemeanors come in three classes:
These are defined as Class A, Class B and Class C. The potential penalties for each type follow.
Class A Misdemeanors
Sentences can include up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $2500.
Driving on a Suspended License is at least a Class A misdemeanor, which makes is critical to restore driving privileges as quickly as possible.
Class B Misdemeanors
Sentences can include up to 180 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.
Class C Misdemeanors
Sentences can include up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1500.
All crimes are defined by statutes. These statutes are collected and organized into the Illinois Criminal Code found in Chapter 720 of the Illinois Compiled Statutes. Possible penalties are found in the Code of Criminal Procedure in Chapter 725.
Possible Sentences Other Than the Maximum
While there are maximum penalties for each class of misdemeanor, upon a finding of guilty after a trial or after a plea of guilty, the judge has a range of sentencing options. This include:
Court Supervision: – An order of a court that allows a judge to impose a penalty other than jail, but is not permanently on a defendant’s record as a conviction (comes off the record after the supervision time is complete and all requirements of the court have been met). Cases in which the judge orders supervision are often eligible for expungement.
Conditional Discharge: – In a case where a conviction is imposed, but there is no jail sentence, the defendant is conditionally discharged from going to jail with judicial requirements such as community service, restitution or payment of fines. Conditional Discharge may include a jail sentence, but it will not be the maximum.
Probation: – The defendant receives a criminal conviction. He may be sentenced to jail in addition to probation, and probation includes much closer monitoring of the defendant than either supervision or conditional discharge, with regular reporting to a probation officer during the probation.
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