In American criminal law, both at the state and federal levels, crimes are almost always divided into two categories: felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies include the most serious crimes that carry the most severe sentences, whereas misdemeanors tend to include less serious crimes with less severe sentences. There are also additional classifications within each category.
In Illinois, the most serious classification of a misdemeanor is a Class A misdemeanor and carries with it the most severe sentencing of all misdemeanors. More specifically, Illinois law provides that a prison sentence for a Class A misdemeanor cannot exceed one year.
It is important to note that misdemeanor convictions, whether Class A or below, will remain on your criminal record unless you are pardoned. Having an offense charged as a misdemeanor is seen as preferable to being charged with a felony, as it carries a maximum jail sentence of one year. It is for this reason that Illinois criminal defense lawyers work hard on their clients' behalf to have cases tried as misdemeanors when possible--if not outright dismissed altogether.
The DuPage/Chicago Criminal Lawyers at Dolci & Weiland provide dedicated, aggressive legal representation. Dolci & Weiland lawyers are former prosecutors, and their combined experience of over 100 years trying criminal cases is critical in preparing your defense.
Certain types of criminal offenses tend to be classified as Class A misdemeanors by Illinois courts. The most common examples are outlined below.
First DUI Conviction
First DUI convictions in Illinois are usually Class A misdemeanors. An Illinois DUI conviction can lead to administrative penalties, criminal penalties, or both, including a suspended or revoked driver's license, administrative fees, fines, and probation time.
Second DUI Conviction
A second DUI conviction, while also a Class A misdemeanor, is punishable by a mandatory minimum of five days in jail or 240 community service hours, and suspension of vehicle registration. A second DUI conviction can lead to a suspended or revoked driver's license, administrative fees, fines, and probation time.
Shoplifting Property / Retail Theft
Shoplifting or retail theft can lead to several different outcomes based on whether the store decides to involve the police and also on the value of the property.
If the store decides to involve the police and the property in question has a total combined value of $300 or less, the offense will be treated as a Class A misdemeanor and can result in the penalty of fines up to $2,500 and up to one year of imprisonment.
Possession of Drug Paraphernalia Without an Intent to Sell
The Illinois Drug Paraphernalia Control Act (720 ILCS 600) specifies what drug paraphernalia can include, but most commonly, drug paraphernalia refers to devices used to administer controlled substances (bongs, pipes, syringes) as well as some common household items used in drug packaging and distribution. Possession of drug paraphernalia without an intent to sell is generally classified as a Class A misdemeanor in the State of Illinois, although exceptions do exist.