Criminal law is divided into two main categories: felony and misdemeanor. The crimes in each category may differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction because of how state legislatures and Congress define what constitutes a felony and a misdemeanor. Felonies are criminal offenses that carry a maximum penalty of more than one year incarceration. Because felonies are serious charges that carry significant penalties, it is important to enlist the help of an experienced Illinois felony attorney who understands the ins and outs of the criminal justice system and can advocate on your behalf for dismissal or reduction of charges. Attorney Ramon A. Moore will work to defend your rights. Call 312.332.5134 if you are facing felony and a misdemeanor charges.
The Differences Between a Felony and a Misdemeanors
The main difference between a felony and a misdemeanor is the severity of the crime. What is considered to be a severe crime varies from state to state.
Felonies and misdemeanors can be committed against people, property, or the state.
The punishments for a felony and misdemeanor differ greatly as well. Felonies tend to involve prison sentences of at least a year, fines, or a combination of both, while misdemeanors involve prison sentences of less than a year, smaller fines, or a combination of both. Misdemeanors frequently result in alternative sentencing, such as community service or rehabilitation programs.
Examples of Felonies
- Murder: Murder, also known as homicide, is when one person kills another person.
- Aggravated Battery: Battery, which usually is accompanied by assault, occurs when someone actually causes another person physical harm, usually with the use of a weapon or fists.
- Weapons Offenses: When someone possesses a firearm who is prohibited by law.
- Arson: Arson is when someone intentionally sets fire to a building or, in some instances, a natural area, such as a forest.
- Sexual Assault or Rape: Rape is the act of engaging someone in non-consensual sex.
- Armed Robbery: When someone takes property from another with force, and is armed.
Illinois subdivides rulings into separate classes that carry different sentences:
- Class 4: 1-3 years imprisonment
- Class 3: 2-5 years imprisonment
- Class 2: 3-7 years imprisonment
- Class 1: 4-15 years imprisonment
- Class X: 6-30 years imprisonment
A misdemeanor offense usually carries a potential jail sentence of less than one year, while felony offenses carry a potential incarceration sentence of a year or more. Examples of misdemeanor offenses include simple assault, shoplifting, trespassing, disorderly conduct, and other low-level crimes. However, every state classifies crimes differently, and a crime considered a misdemeanor in one could be considered a felony in another.
Examples of Misdemeanors
Here are a few examples of misdemeanors:
- Public Intoxication: This is when someone is drunk in public. Usually, the drunk person is being unruly.
- Speeding: Disobeying the speed limit usually results in a fine or a form of alternative sentencing.
- Trespassing: Trespass is considered an unlawful intrusion. It is different from burglary in that property is not necessarily stolen or damaged.
- Vandalism: Vandalism is the intentional destruction of another persons property.
Even though misdemeanors are considered less serious than felonies, there is no guarantee that a conviction would carry lenient penalties. Misdemeanors can come with significant consequences. Although penalties can vary greatly depending on the states and the nature of the crime, they typically involve one or more of the following punishments:
- Jail – Misdemeanor offenses can be punished with up to a year in a county or city jail.
- Fines – Misdemeanor convictions will also typically involve some kind of fine, though the amount of the fine can differ significantly.
- Restitution – Misdemeanors involving property damage, loss of money, or other damages will include restitution orders. Restitution is money payed to compensate the victim for any loss or damages incurred. These orders can also include paying for prosecution costs or other court fees.
- Probation – A probation sentence is also possible if convicted of a misdemeanor offense (some felony offenses can also have a probation alternative). Probation typically lasts at least 12 months, during which time the convicted has to comply with court ordered conditions. These require the person to refrain from committing more crimes, reporting to a probation officer, paying all fines or restitution in the case, or performing community service, though individual conditions can differ significantly from case to case.
Felony and Misdemeanor Legal Help
If you are accused of or arrested for a felony or misdemeanor, you will want legal assistance, either to help prove your innocence or negotiate a lesser charge or sentence.
Even in situations involving misdemeanors, you may want to seek legal representation. If you cannot afford legal representation, you can have a defense attorney appointed to you. This attorney is known as a public defender.
Attorney Ramon A. Moore defends both felony and misdemeanor cases including assault, domestic violence, drug related crimes, felony DUI charges, homicide and manslaughter, robbery, sex crimes, weapons charges, and white collar crimes. Call today at 312.332.5134 for aggressive representation in your case.