Misdemeanors, felonies and petty offenses explained

If you have been charged with a criminal offense in Illinois, you may be confused by the many terms used in court documents. We at Jim Ryan and Associates not only fight for your rights, but also work to make sure you understand exactly what these complicated terms mean.

According to the Illinois State Bar Association, there are six classes of felonies, but all are serious offenses that could lead to your imprisonment in a penitentiary or the death sentence. Crimes such as stalking, perjury and aggravated battery are in the lower felony classes, while robbery, kidnapping, arson and burglary are more severe. Class 1 felonies include invading someone’s home, sexual assault and second-degree murder. First-degree murder is the most serious and is in its own class. If you attempt a certain felony and fail, you can receive the punishment for one class lower.

Misdemeanors are less serious and include crimes that are punishable with a jail sentence in a non-penitentiary establishment. This includes first-time theft, battery, assault and minor cannabis offenses. Misdemeanors are also divided into classes that each carry jail time and possibly a fine. Fine amounts range from $1,500 for Class B and C to $2,500 for Class A.

Petty offenses, which include business offenses and some minor traffic offenses, are generally only punishable by a fine of less than $1,000. You may also be required to make restitution in some cases or supervision might be required. For more information on the various aspects of a criminal defense case, visit our web page.