What are the differences between a misdemeanor and felony?

If you have been charged with a crime in Illinois, the severity of the consequences you may face will often depend on if you have been charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. Generally, more serious crimes are classified as felonies, which carry the most serious penalties, while less severe crimes are classified as misdemeanors, which typically result in less significant consequences. A criminal defense attorney can give you the best chance at avoiding a criminal conviction by helping you come up with an effective defense strategy.

However, most states have different levels of felonies and misdemeanors, but all classes of misdemeanors in Illinois generally result in a prison sentence for less than a year. In Illinois, misdemeanors are divided into Class A, Class B and Class C.

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanor that could result in up to a year in jail and up to $2,500 in fines. The judge may also sentence the defendant to other consequences including supervision, probation for up to two years, community service and conditional discharge. Class B misdemeanors carry a sentence of up to six months in prison and up to $1,500 in fines, plus other consequences. Class C misdemeanors are the least severe of all misdemeanor crimes and could result in up to 30 days in prison and up to $1,500 in fines, plus possible other consequences.

Felonies in Illinois are classified as Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4 and Class X, and can lead to significant jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. Class X felonies, including aggravated arson, armed robbery and murder, are the most serious felonies and can result in up to 30 years in jail and/or up to $25,000 in fines. Class 4 felonies, such as cyberstalking and computer fraud, are typically the least serious of the felony offenses and could result in a minimum of one year in prison and/or up to $25,000. Felony convictions can also have a significant impact on your life long after you have endured the legal consequences. Convicted felons often have difficulty finding employment, securing a loan and renting an apartment.