Criminal Justice Lawyerstate misdemeanors and felonies

Were you or was your loved one arrested and charged with a criminal offense in Illinois? If so, it is normal to be stressed out and confused. The criminal justice process is notoriously complex. But, not giving up and fighting to get the most favorable outcome is necessary.

During these challenging times, it is imperative that you understand what you are facing, including:

  • The classification of the charge.
  • The elements that the prosecution must prove.
  • The penalties associated with a conviction.

State-level misdemeanors and state-level felonies carry different penalties in our state. In this article, our Chicago criminal defense attorneys explain the key things you should know about the difference in penalties between misdemeanors and felonies in Illinois.

State Misdemeanors and Felonies: Understanding the Classification of Criminal Offense

In Illinois, criminal charges can be broken down into two broad categories: misdemeanors and felonies. The classifications are used broadly to assess the severity of a particular type of charge. A criminal charge’s possible penalties will vary based on the classification of the offense. Here are the key things that you need to know about the state charges in Illinois:

  • Misdemeanor: A misdemeanor is the less serious type of criminal charge in Illinois. State law (730 ILCS 5/5‑1‑14) defines a misdemeanor as “any offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in other than a penitentiary for less than one year may be imposed.” Put another way, all misdemeanors in Illinois carry a maximum sentence of less than one year behind bars. Of course, that is not to say that a misdemeanor charge should simply be brushed off as a minor issue. A conviction could send you to jail for an entire year, along with other financial and legal sanctions. Some examples of misdemeanor charges in Illinois include drunk driving, trespassing, and criminal damage to property. To learn more about the possible penalties associated with a charge, contact our Chicago misdemeanor defense lawyer for immediate assistance.
  • Felony: Felonies are more serious criminal offenses. In Illinois, a felony state-level charge is one that carries maximum criminal penalties of greater than one year in prison. Beyond prison time, a felony conviction can carry a wide array of other unfavorable legal and personal consequences—from major fines to the loss of a clean record. Some examples of felony criminal charges in Illinois include drug trafficking, armed robbery, carjacking, vehicular homicide, and aggravated possession of a firearm. If you have any specific questions about the potential penalties, our Chicago felony defense attorney can help.

The Bottom Line: A felony charge is more serious than a misdemeanor charge. In Illinois, a crime is classified as a misdemeanor offense if the maximum criminal penalties are one year in prison or less. All felony charges in Illinois carry maximum criminal penalties of greater than one year behind bars.

A Deeper Look at Illinois Law: Sub-Classifications of Criminal Charges

While criminal charges are broadly defined into two categories — misdemeanor and felony — there are also sub-classifications of criminal charges. There are three types of misdemeanor offenses (Class A, Class B, and Class C). Class A is the most serious, whereas Class C is the least severe.

Penalties for a misdemeanor in Illinois are based, in part, on the class of the charge. There are six different types of felony charges in Illinois (First-degree murder, Class X, Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, and Class 4). The most serious charge, murder in the first degree, is punishable by life in prison if certain aggravating factors are met.

Criminal Penalties Always Vary Based on the Specific Circumstances

Under Illinois criminal sentencing state law, there are guidelines in place for criminal sentencing. The penalties for a conviction will depend both on the specific charge(s) in question as well as the surrounding circumstances. Indeed, criminal courts in Illinois have considerable discretion in most cases.

They can review and evaluate a wide range of different factors in determining whether or not a defendant should face a sentence near the top end of the guidelines (maximum penalty) or the bottom end of the criminal guidelines (minimum penalty).

Few Criminal Cases Go to Trial: A Strong and Proactive Defense is Must

Few criminal cases actually make it to trial — let alone to sentencing. According to data cited by The Marshall Project, more than 90 percent of criminal charges filed nationwide are resolved before a trial — either by being dropped, reduced, or settled through a plea bargain. For this reason, it is essential that you take a proactive approach. The sooner you get an attorney in your corner, the better.

At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, we work tirelessly to protect the rights of our clients. When you get in touch with our Chicago law office, you will get to speak with an Illinois criminal defense lawyer who can:

  • Answer your questions, assess your charges, and explain the next steps.
  • Review your arrest to ensure your rights were respected.
  • Represent you in any plea bargain discussions with prosecutors.
  • Take all necessary legal action to get you justice.

Every criminal case is different. The proper defense strategy will depend on many different factors, including the nature of the charges, the circumstances surrounding the arrest, and the evidence produced by the prosecution.

As trial-tested Chicago criminal defense attorneys, our law firm is prepared to take your case wherever it needs to go to get you the best outcome. This is true whether that means putting together an aggressive defense at trial or working towards a favorable plea agreement.

Contact Our Chicago, IL Criminal Defense Lawyers for Immediate Help

At The Law Offices of Vadim A. Glozman, our Illinois criminal defense attorneys provide aggressive, justice-focused legal representation to clients. If you have any questions or concerns about the penalties for a misdemeanor or felony charge, we can help.

Call us at 312.726.9015 for your completely confidential initial legal consultation. With an office in Chicago, we defend state-level misdemeanors and state-level felonies throughout the entire region, including in Evanston, Naperville, Aurora, Elgin, Arlington Heights, Schaumburg, and Orland Park.