According to Chicago lawyer Fred Mark Dry, Illinois crimes are broken down into two major groups – felonies and misdemeanors. A crime punishable with incarceration for less than one year is a misdemeanor while all other crimes are considered felonies.
Chicago Criminal Lawyer Explains: Misdemeanor Crime
Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that are more serious than petty offenses but less serious than a felony. Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine or incarceration in a local jail, or both.
Examples of misdemeanors may include petty theft, prostitution, public intoxication, simple assault, disorderly conduct, trespass, vandalism, cannabis (marijuana) possession, reckless driving, and other similar crimes.
The extent in which the offense is carried out will affect its classification. For example, if you were to steal an item costing less than a certain dollar amount, you would be committing petty larceny, which is a misdemeanor. However, if the item were to cost more than the said amount, you would be committing grand theft, which is a felony. Speak with a Chicago lawyer or Chicago attorney if you’ve been arrested.
If a misdemeanor jail sentence is to be served, it would be served for not more than a year, usually at a local, city or county jail. Misdemeanor offenses are usually dealt with in misdemeanor courts with procedures that resolve cases faster than felonies.
Misdemeanors are usually carried out by written complaint or information. Generally, a grand jury is not required to investigate and charge misdemeanors. If a defendant does desire a jury trial, they will have to make a request and pay a fee or fine, if convicted. A misdemeanor charge may be considered by a grand jury, if it is accompanied by one or more felonies.
Chicago Criminal Lawyer Explains: Felony Crime
Felonies are deemed the most serious class of criminal offense. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the crime, felonies are generally punishable by imprisonment for more than a year at a state prison, by a fine, or both. If you’ve been charged with a felony, call a Chicago lawyer or Chicago attorney for legal guidance.
Crimes commonly considered to be felonies include, but are not limited to, aggravated assault, aggravated battery, arson, burglary, illegal drug possession and sales, grand theft, armed robbery and simple robbery, murder, rape, and vandalism on federal property. Felonies can also be categorized as either violent or non-violent offenses.
If the crime is a capital offense like first-degree murder, a death penalty may be awarded. In misdemeanor and felony cases, the defendant has the right to a court-appointed lawyer if indigent.
A person convicted of a felony is likely to have more restrictions on their rights. This may include professional restrictions; for example, they can be disqualified from being lawyers or teachers, not being allowed to serve on juries, lose the right to vote, be prohibited from owning guns or serving in the military, and in some cases, have to register as an offender, such as a sex offender or narcotics offender.
There are some offenses similar in nature that may be felonies or misdemeanors depending on the circumstances. The illegal manufacture, distribution or possession of controlled substances may be a felony, although possession of small amounts of cannabis (marijuana) may be only a misdemeanor. Possession of a deadly weapon may be generally legal, but carrying the same weapon improperly or into a restricted area, such as a school, may be viewed as a serious offense, regardless of whether there is intent to use the weapon.