If you or a loved one is facing misdemeanor charges in Illinois, a misdemeanor defense attorney at The Law Offices of Andrew Nickel could help you protect your rights, freedom, and future.
Do You Really Need a Misdemeanor Defense Attorney?
Generally, misdemeanor offenses are considered less serious than felony crimes. However, did you know that a minor wrongdoing can put you in jail for up to one year, and you can pay fines of up to $2500 in states like Illinois?
On top of that, it can take approximately five years of successful completion of probation to get your record expunged from the state’s criminal records. On some occasions, your expungement request may be denied.
To avert any negative consequences, there are some things you need to know about misdemeanor crimes, including how an attorney can assist you, and they are discussed in this article.
Consequences of Having a Misdemeanor on Your Criminal Record
Misdemeanor accusations can be very devastating. A small conviction can result in missing out on state and federal aid, losing your licenses (both personal and professional), being denied security clearance, being suspended, or completely losing your job, fines, and other far-reaching consequences. You can also end up in jail.
Misdemeanor offenses can also turn into felony crimes. This may occur if you had previous misdemeanor convictions; for example if you have a repeat drunk-driving conviction, retail fraud, or assault. Additionally, when the court realizes that there was a motive or intent behind your minor crimes, a misdemeanor may turn into a felony.
Once you get arrested, the prosecution will start preparing to have a good case against you. They will look for any evidence they can find to build their case. In doing so, something minor that you did a long time ago may be used against you.
Therefore, it is important to work with an aggressive and professional criminal defense lawyer to effectively handle your case. When you turn to the Law Offices of Andrew Nickel, you will find exactly that.
What Does Misdemeanor Charge Mean in Illinois?
There are three classes of misdemeanor charges in Illinois. They include Class A, Class B, and Class C.
Class A misdemeanors are crimes that are just a step away from becoming a felony. Such crimes include:
- Possession of 31 – 100 grams of cannabis.
- Battery, including domestic violence.
- Driving under the influence (DUI).
- General and retail theft.
- Driving on a suspended license.
- Soliciting a prostitute.
- Resisting arrest.
When convicted of a Class A misdemeanor crime, you can serve the maximum sentence of up to 1 year in jail and/or face a $2500 fine. Apart from that, the court is also authorized to pass on the following sentences for a Class A misdemeanor:
Supervision. In this case, the judge can extend the case for a period of time, usually one year. During this time, you have to follow certain court rules, remain under supervision, and stay away from criminal activities. If you satisfy the court, the charges might be dropped, but the record of arrest will still remain until expungement.
Probation. This is where you are given a set of rules to comply with; on top of that, you have to report to a probation officer. This can last up to 2 years.
Conditional discharge. This is where you are discharged under certain conditions. These include:
- Community service.
- Restituting the victim for the monetary losses.
- Home detention.
Class B misdemeanors are usually less serious than Class A offenses. They include:
- Criminal trespass and mischief.
- Indecent exposure.
- Minor drug possession of up to two ounces.
- Failure to pay child support.
- Indecent exposure.
You will face up to 180 days incarcerated for a Class B misdemeanor, and/or a $1500 fine.
Class C misdemeanor includes:
- Traffic tickets.
- Leaving your child in a vehicle.
- Public intoxication and disorderly conduct.
- Simple assault.
The maximum penalties for being found guilty of a Class C misdemeanor include up to 30 days in county jail and/or a $1500 fine. Although these penalties may seem minor, keep in mind that the consequences of having a misdemeanor conviction on your record, no matter how minimal, can have far-reaching consequences. If you are facing a misdemeanor case, an experienced criminal defense attorney at our law firm can provide the legal advice you need to better understand your options in this situation, beginning with a free consultation.
Should I Get a Lawyer For Misdemeanor?
Yes, you should get a lawyer for a misdemeanor offense! Here’s why:
The penalties can get too heavy. You might think you have committed a Class C crime, but a previous record can lead to worse outcomes, ultimately resulting in more serious penalties. A lawyer could help minimize or totally avert the charges.
An attorney can also help you avoid collateral consequences in case of a misdemeanor charge. For instance, they can sometimes expunge your criminal record to make it easier to get a job, apply for college, secure housing, and so on.
A skilled attorney can also help you avoid pleading guilty to the crimes you have committed. They can gather satisfactory evidence that can help build a strong defense.
Process of Working With a Criminal Defense Attorney — Misdemeanor Crimes
When facing misdemeanor charges, the legal process of prosecution may take either one of the following options:
- Pleading guilty.
- A plea of not guilty.
If you plead guilty, the prosecutor and your criminal defense attorneys will negotiate how you will be sentenced.
If you plead not guilty (under the guidance of your criminal defense attorneys), your case will go to trial. In this case, you will have two options:
- A bench trial, where the judge hears the evidence and comes up with a verdict.
- A jury trial, where six to twelve jurors will look at the evidence and render a verdict.
Either way, a good criminal defense lawyer for misdemeanor cases will help you achieve the best outcome.
Why Hire Our Misdemeanor Lawyers?
If you decide that you don’t need to work with a misdemeanor lawyer, or if you cannot afford a personal lawyer, the court will assign you a public defender. While public defenders are a vital piece of our justice system, many people don’t believe that they can provide a satisfactory representation.
For one, they have many cases to deal with. Every other person that doesn’t have a lawyer is assigned a public defendant. So, they may not take enough quality time to investigate and gather proper resources to defend your case. Secondly, after the court assigns you a public defender, it can be reluctant to allow you to change your counsel at random. This may make it difficult for you if you feel like you’re not getting the best representation.
The Importance of a Strong Attorney-Client Relationship
However, if you want to be confident in your representation, you should hire a personal misdemeanor lawyer with extensive experience defending individuals who have been charged with misdemeanor crimes. The misdemeanor defense lawyers at the Law Office of Andrew Nickel know what it takes to prevent or minimize a criminal conviction, and in some instances, we may be able to get an entire case dismissed.
When you need the top criminal attorneys in Illinois, we’re ready to fight for your rights. If you are ready to begin building a strong attorney-client relationship, reach out to our law firm for a free confidential consultation by filling out our contact form today.