In Illinois, crimes are considered misdemeanors if they are punishable by a sentence lesser than a year in county jail. 

Misdemeanors are less severe crimes and generally result in a short sentence, fine, or probation. Felonies are more serious crimes that typically require jail time, higher fines, and more consequences like deportation.

Misdemeanors include crimes such as driving under the influence, shoplifting, petty theft, and domestic violence. Felonies, on the other hand, cover crimes such as trafficking, aggravated assault, manslaughter, murder, assault with the intent to murder, robbery (whether or not a firearm was involved, sexual assault, arson, and kidnapping. The difference between misdemeanors and felonies is the legal consequence associated with them. 

Penalties for Misdemeanors in Illinois 

In Illinois, the penalty for misdemeanors is not only covered by jail time. The court may impose jail time alone or any of the following instead of or alongside jail time: 

  • Conditional discharge 
  • Probation 
  • Periodic imprisonments 
  • Restitution to victim 

The conditions for each of these differ. Periodic imprisonment or mandatory supervised releases may be given to a minor to go to school. If the person charged has to go to work or care for a loved one, they may be sentenced to this. Restitution may be payable if a property was destroyed or harm was done to the victim. 

Why Misdemeanors are Sometimes considered Felonies

Sometimes, a crime classified as a misdemeanor may be tried as a felony. The circumstances for this are usually distinct, but these are conditions in which this may be possible

  • If the defendant has had a previous conviction regarding the same crime 
  • If the crime was committed in certain protected places such as schools, a high-net area, or a place of worship 
  • In cases where a previous conviction exists, such as a no-contact or restraining order being placed or theft of high value, the misdemeanor is tried as a felony. 

Penalties for Felonies in Illinois 

The charges in Illinois can be severe, which is why expert criminal defense attorneys are essential. Felonies attract more than a year in jail alongside fines above $25,000, depending on the situation. The aftermath may be just as harsh as there are certain government benefits, such as housing subsidies, that are not available for people who have been convicted of a felony. 

If you’re facing misdemeanor charges, then you must understand exactly what those charges mean—and what steps are available for reducing or eliminating them from your record.

If you find yourself facing felony charges in Illinois, then you will need to consult with an attorney as soon as possible. Our attorneys at Lamb, Caroll, Papp, and Cunabaugh can help you navigate the system and understand how your case may be handled. We will also give you candid but supportive advice on preparing for trial. It is important to also plan for the best course of action if things don’t go your way during your trial.

Regardless of the charges, our criminal defense attorneys are up to the task of defending you and protecting your interests. It is in your best interest to choose a skilled defense attorney, and our attorneys can help you. Schedule a consultation here.