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What is the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony Offense?

If you are facing charges in Illinois, it is extremely important to understand the implications of the specific criminal charges you are facing. In general, crimes are charged as misdemeanor offenses, felony offenses, and local ordinance (or municipal ordinance) violations in Illinois. These types of offenses are much different from one another in terms of the sentence you could be facing under Illinois law, as well as the effects of having a criminal conviction on your record.

No matter what type of charges you are facing, an Illinois criminal defense attorney can assess your case and discuss options with you for building a defense. In the meantime, we want to discuss the differences between misdemeanor, felony, and municipal ordinance offenses in the state.

General Differences: Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Municipal Ordinances 

If you are cited for a municipal ordinance violation, this is the least serious type of offense. It is a citation for violating a local ordinance, and it has limited penalties under the Illinois Municipal Code. Sometimes a municipal or local ordinance is also known sometimes as an infraction. Minor traffic offenses are often given as an example of an infraction or municipal ordinance violation that does not carry jail time. A misdemeanor offense can be charged as a Class A, Class B, or Class C misdemeanors.  A Class A misdemeanor is the most serious type of offense, while a Class C misdemeanor is the least serious. Even the least serious misdemeanor, however, can result in jail time.

While misdemeanor offenses can lead to a jail sentence, it is important to know that misdemeanors are much less serious offenses than felonies. A felony offense is the most serious type of criminal offense in Illinois. Like misdemeanor offenses, felony offenses are put into different classes. A Class 4 felony is the least serious, followed by a Class 3 felony, a Class 2 felony, a Class 1 felony, and finally a Class X felony as the most serious type of offense.  

What are the Penalties for Misdemeanors, Felonies, and Municipal Ordinances in Illinois?

Violations of a municipal ordinance have relatively minor penalties. Traffic offenses and other municipal ordinance violations can carry a fine or monetary penalty, along with a requirement to complete a particular type of education program or to perform public service work.

The penalties for a misdemeanor conviction are much more severe. In addition to monetary fines (which are much steeper than the monetary fines for most municipal ordinance violations), misdemeanor offenses can include jail time. Even a Class C misdemeanor, which is the least serious type of misdemeanor offense, can result in a monetary fine of up to $1,500 and jail time of up to 30 days. A Class A misdemeanor can result in a fine of up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail.

Penalties for a felony are even more severe. Penalties for a felony can include a maximum fine of $25,000 and a prison sentence of anywhere from one year to life in prison. 

Contact a Criminal Defense Attorney in Illinois

 If you are facing charges in Illinois, a Chicago criminal defense lawyer can help with your case. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus today to begin working on your defense strategy.

For Over 33 Years

Senior Partner Jonathan Minkus has successfully defended individuals charged with every conceivable criminal offense, from traffic misdemeanors to death-penalty eligible homicides.

We urge you to contact us for a FREE, confidential, initial consultation.

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