Under United States (U.S.) criminal law, crimes are divided into two categories. These are misdemeanors and felonies. Felonies are very serious criminal offenses that are punishable by harsh sentences. On the other hand, misdemeanors are less serious crimes with lesser sentences. Although misdemeanor offenses are less serious, the penalties imposed can be tough.
Illinois law classifies misdemeanor offenses based on the type and severity of the offense. There are three different forms of misdemeanors: Class A, B, and C misdemeanor offenses. Class A misdemeanors are the most serious type of misdemeanor convictions. They can stay on your record and permanently affect your life. If you are facing criminal charges for a Class A misdemeanor, it is important to contact a criminal lawyer.
Keep reading to learn more about Class A misdemeanor charges and how we can help.
There are several crimes in Illinois that fall under the classification of a Class A misdemeanor. Some of these crimes include:
Criminal damage to property
Driving with a suspended license
Possession of drug paraphernalia
Possession of stolen property
Theft not exceeding $500
Although these crimes fall under the Class A misdemeanor category, they can be upgraded to a felony. When deciding whether to upgrade Illinois misdemeanor crimes, the prosecution will look at the totality of the circumstances surrounding your case.
The punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is a jail sentence or periodic imprisonment not exceeding one year. The court may also impose a fine between $75 and $2,500 in addition to your jail sentence. They may reduce or waive a fine if it will impose an undue burden on you.
Depending on the type of offense, you may have to pay other mandatory fines. These may include fines for speeding tickets and moving violations.
An Illinois court judge may sentence you to one or more of the following:
Community service: The court may require you to work for certain hours. This may be done through the probation office, sheriff’s department or a non-profit organization. For instance, in Cook County, it is done through the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program (SWAP).
Conditional discharge: You may be released from jail if you agree to certain conditions. There is no requirement to report to a probation officer. However, you must not commit another offense or violate the law.
Court supervision: This sentence is not a criminal conviction. The court will choose not to enter judgment but to continue your case for a specific time. If you complete all the conditions of your sentence without violating the law, they will dismiss your charges. However, it does not remove the record of arrest on your criminal record.
Home detention: The court may sentence you to electronic home monitoring. This involves wearing an ankle monitor that alerts the police of your attempt to leave.
Probation: The court usually issues a period of probation for two years. You must comply with the rules of your probation, including regularly reporting to a probation officer.
Restitution: This is an order to repay the victim for loss or damages to their property.
Most times, people view a misdemeanor offense as a simple offense. For this reason, they trivialize the implications of a conviction. Class A misdemeanor convictions come with other life-changing consequences. One consequence that can take a toll on you in the long run is a criminal record.
In the U.S., both government and private organizations conduct background checks. These include employers, universities, insurance agencies and immigration authorities. Most employers frown on prospective employees with a criminal background. Therefore, securing a job may become more challenging.
As a student, you may find it difficult to gain acceptance into college. If you are on a scholarship, you may lose your scholarship benefits. You may also lose your ability to obtain certain professional licenses. As an employee, a jail sentence or probation may lead to the loss of your job. A DUI misdemeanor conviction may also result in a suspended or revoked driver’s license.
The repercussions of a conviction are even more devastating for immigrants. Certain misdemeanor offenses can make you ineligible for immigration benefits. You may become inadmissible and eventually face deportation.
The legal process for prosecuting felony and misdemeanor charges is similar. After a charge is filed, you will be asked to enter a plea. If you enter not guilty, you can choose between a jury trial or a bench trial. At your trial, the prosecution and your lawyer will have the opportunity to present evidence. They can also call witnesses to the stand for cross-examination.
After hearing both sides, the judge will impose the sentence they find appropriate. An acquittal means that you are not guilty of the offense.
Class A misdemeanor convictions will stay on your record forever. Nevertheless, you can petition the court to erase certain charges from your record. This can be done through expungement or sealing. Most misdemeanor offenses in Illinois qualify for expungement or sealing. However, you must complete the terms of your sentence.
Another condition for expungement is having no criminal charges or convictions. There is a waiting period (usually two years) for expungement based on the type of offense. If you were not convicted, there is no waiting period, and you can petition the court immediately.
Class A misdemeanor convictions can negatively impact your personal and professional life. By consulting with an experienced criminal lawyer, you can avoid these consequences. At the Hirsch Law Group, we understand criminal law and the potential consequences of a conviction. We can help you minimize or eliminate the negative impacts of a conviction.
If your case goes to trial, we can offer you guidance and support throughout the trial process. We also have the knowledge and skills to represent you in court. If you or a loved one was arrested for a Class A misdemeanor, contact us today.