illinois criminal defenseCharged with a Crime in Illinois?

Criminal Defense Lawyers Explain Charges and Penalties

A criminal conviction can drastically affect the rest of your life. You may face the possibility of jail time, fines and other penalties, and your reputation may be damaged. Additionally, a conviction may prevent you from finding work and/or housing in the future. Since so much hangs in the balance, you should always work a criminal defense lawyer with a history of success. Even innocence is not always an ironclad defense – law enforcement and prosecutors may not care about your side of the story, but will simply focus on getting a conviction. An attorney can work to enforce your rights and expose any misconduct or negligence that may have led to your arrest. In many cases, a good lawyer can get your charges or penalties reduced, minimizing the negative impact on your life.

If you have been arrested or someone you know was taken into police custody, then you should find a lawyer as quickly as possible. No matter what kinds of charges you face, from a misdemeanor to a felony, finding an attorney you trust is essential. To speak with a local Illinois criminal lawyer today, consult our local listings.

What Are the Basic Types of Criminal Charges?

The type of criminal charge you face may vary depending on the nature of the alleged crime. Although each state has its own specific classifications, the general types of charges are:

  • Infraction. An infraction is the least serious type of charge you can face. In fact, some states handle infractions as civil cases, rather than criminal cases. Traffic violations and other minor offenses usually fall into this category. Jail is generally not a possibility for infractions, so you are not entitled to a jury trial and the state will usually not appoint you a lawyer. However, you can still hire one of your own.
  • Petty offense. Some states categorize low-level criminal conduct as petty offenses. This may include illegal acts like gambling, disturbing the peace, public indecency, pollution violations and theft of items of low value.
  • Misdemeanor. A misdemeanor is a more serious charge and county courts typically handle these cases. Common misdemeanor charges include assault, criminal trespass, theft and certain drug crimes, including possession and sale.
  • Felony. This is the most serious type of criminal charge and state and/or federal courts usually handle these cases. Common felonies include murder, kidnapping, sexual assault, robbery, vehicular homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and certain drug crimes.

In some cases, a criminal defense lawyer can negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution to reduce the severity of the charges you face. If the court reduces your charge from a low-level felony to a misdemeanor, for example, then the repercussions you face may be much less serious.

What Is the Penalty for a Misdemeanor in Illinois?

Each state has its own system for classifying misdemeanor and felony charges, and penalties may vary as well. A misdemeanor in Illinois is defined as any crime that is punishable by a term of less than one year in local or county jail. Illinois lawmakers have designated misdemeanors as Class A, B, or C.

The general penalties you may face for different types of misdemeanor charges in Illinois are:

  • Class C Misdemeanor. These crimes include third-degree trespass, prostitution and theft of items less than $100 in value. Penalties for Class C misdemeanors may include fines of $50 to $750 and/or up to six months of jail time.
  • Class B Misdemeanor. This category includes crimes such as theft of property worth between $100 and $500, as well as manufacture or sale of drug paraphernalia, and illegal possession of a firearm. Class B misdemeanor penalties may include fines from $250 to $1,000 and/or between three months and a year of jail time.
  • Class A Misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanor charges include third-degree assault, indecent exposure and unlawful sexual contact. A Class A misdemeanor may be punishable by up to one year in jail, up to two years of probation (with formal supervision), and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
  • Traffic Misdemeanor. Illinois law separates traffic violations from other misdemeanors. Usually divided into either a Class A or Class B petty offense, traffic violations may include reckless driving, excessive speeding and more. Penalties include fines ranging from $150 to $1,000. You may also face 10 days to one year of jail time.

What Is the Penalty for a Felony in Illinois?

Like misdemeanors, each state has its own system for what qualifies as a felony and what penalties may result from a conviction.  Illinois lawmakers have designated felonies as Class X, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4. In addition to their typical degrees of punishment, each class is also subject to “extended terms” in which a judge may sentence defendants to longer terms if certain aggravating factors are present, including but not limited to, any prior criminal conviction by the defendant, that the crime was a hate crime, or that the victim was over the age of 60.

In Illinois, possible felony charges and penalties include:

  • Class X Felony. Class X felonies may include crimes such as battery with a firearm. This is the most serious felony class is Illinois law,  and can be punishable by six to 30 years’ imprisonment. An extended term class X felony is punishable by 30 to 60 years in prison.
  • Class 1 Felony. This category may include crimes related to sexual assault. Penalties can be punishable by four to 15 years in prison. An extended term class 1 felony is punishable by 15 to 30 years.
  • Class 2 Felony. These include crimes such as criminal transmission of HIV. Common penalties include a prison term of three to seven years, or seven to 14 years for an extended term.
  • Class 3 Felony. Many assaults and batteries are class 3 felonies. Penalties often include  two to five years’ imprisonment, while an extended term class 3 felony is punishable by five to ten years in prison.
  • Class 4 Felony. These crimes include theft of government property worth less than $500. Penalties can include one to three years in prison, and an extended term class 4 felony is punishable by three to six years in prison.

Need a Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer? We Can Help

If you are facing any level of criminal charge, then a qualified lawyer may be essential to protecting your future. Additionally, if someone you know is currently in police custody, then you may wish to reach out to a lawyer on his or her behalf. To find a Illinois criminal defense lawyer in your area, then consult our attorney listings. If you have general question about criminal law or certain charges, then do not hesitate to ask the lawyers.