judge slamming gavelThis is the next post in my series on common questions regarding misdemeanor offenses in Peoria, Illinois. My last article discussed defending against class “C” misdemeanor charges. It is important to understand that, while such offenses may not seem “serious” to many, they can still result in jail time and a permanent criminal record. This record can result in one being disqualified from future opportunities. By retaining an attorney, you increase the chances of your interests being properly protected. In this article I will address a commonly asked question – whether or not first-time misdemeanor offenders can go to jail in our state. If you or a family member have been charged with a crime, then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

Illinois misdemeanors can result in a jail sentence

The simple answer of whether someone can go to jail in Illinois for a misdemeanor is “yes.” As we have stated in our prior articles, the amount of time which can be imposed for a misdemeanor can range from thirty days to a year, depending on the severity of the offense. Moreover, a defendant may well face multiple counts depending on the nature of the offense. Whether the Court will grant probation, or require a minimum amount of jail time, will depend on several factors. These factors include the defendant’s criminal history, the nature of the offense, whether serious harm came to a victim, and whether the defendant seems remorseful and takes responsibility for their conduct.

Defendants must remember that they can still end up serving jail time even if they receive probation initially. When the Court sentences a defendant to a term of probation, the Judge will also impose a sentence for the offense. If the terms of probation are violated then the defendant would be required to serve that sentence, typically with credit for any time they have already served. This means, for example, that if a defendant is given a ninety-day sentence and is placed on a six-month probation period, then they must stay out of trouble and meet the Court’s requirements for six months. If they do so, then the case will be closed. If they violate the supervision, then they will be required to serve the ninety-day sentence but will receive credit for any time they served in jail after the initial arrest. How the Court will rule, in any given situation, is always going to depend on the specific facts of the case. By discussing your situation with an attorney, you put yourself in the best possible position going forward.

It is possible for defendants to avoid jail time by successfully defending against the charges

Defendants should remember that being charged with a misdemeanor does not automatically mean that they will be convicted. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty under our justice system and it is not uncommon for defenses to be available in such cases. If, for example, one is charged with assault then it may be possible to show that they were acting in self-defense. Likewise, if one is facing a drug-related charge then it may be possible to gain a dismissal if the narcotics were seized through a violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. How to best defend against a case will depend on the nature of the matter and complicated legal issues can quickly become involved.

I am a Peoria criminal defense lawyer who assists those who have been charged with a misdemeanor. As a former prosecutor, I am familiar with the workings of our Court system. If you or a family member has been arrested, then contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. We look forward to speaking with you. My office also represents clients in Bloomington, Decatur, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. We also serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford.