misdemeanor law binderThis is the next post in a series of articles about defending Class “C” misdemeanor charges in Peoria, Illinois. My last article was an overview of the topics I will be addressing in this series. These offenses do carry a possible term of incarceration and other serious consequences, even though Class “C” misdemeanors are the least serious criminal offense in Illinois. It is important to take this type of offense seriously if charged and hire legal counsel. In this article, I will discuss whether one can go to jail for such a charge. If you or someone you love has been charged with a misdemeanor, contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense attorney.

Illinois Class “C” misdemeanor convictions have lifelong consequences and should be taken seriously

Class “C” misdemeanors are the lowest form of a criminal offense in Illinois, but are more serious than petty infractions, such as traffic tickets. The procedure used by the Court to convict an individual of a Class “C” misdemeanor is the same criminal procedure used for all crimes. Such a charge carries a potential jail term of not more than thirty days and a fine from $75 to $1500. A jail sentence is not mandatory if convicted, but can be issued at the discretion of the Judge. If sentenced to probation, the probation term cannot exceed two years. The statute also provides that if the defendant meets the qualifications, a Judge may require drug court in lieu of a sentence. If you are convicted, in addition to the sentence it carries, it will show on your criminal record for the remainder of your life. Criminal history is commonly pulled anytime one applies for employment or housing. Once convicted, the first offense and criminal history can also impact the results of future criminal charges and the severity of the sentence.

For example, consider a defendant who is convicted of disorderly conduct in Illinois, a Class “C” misdemeanor. They were high at the time of the offense and the Judge decides the defendant qualifies for drug court. The Judge issues a thirty-day jail sentence only if the defendant is not able to complete drug court requirements. Drug court requires the defendant to remain drug-free, meet supervision requirements, and attend therapy. The defendant is able to avoid jail if they can follow the requirements of the drug court during this period. If the defendant does not follow the requirements then he can be required to complete his thirty-day jail sentence. If the defendant successfully completes the drug court program, the Court may dismiss the original charges. It is important to know that every situation is fact specific and you should always retain an attorney to assist you as soon as you are arrested.

Illinois Class “C” misdemeanors can be sealed from public record

It is crucial to hire an attorney and begin preparing a defense any time one is charged with a crime. Sealed records are not destroyed like in the case of expungement, but they are removed from public record. Employers cannot discriminate against you for information relating to sealed records. Illinois law allows certain types of criminal records to be sealed. Whether or not your case is eligible to be sealed will depend on the type of offense, when you were convicted, and how long it has been since you completed your sentence. Sealing is beneficial because a criminal record can affect your ability to obtain adequate employment or prevent you from qualifying for housing. Illinois Public Act 100-284 allows for the sealing of records unless the conviction is not eligible. Ineligible convictions include driving under the influence, sexual offenses, and violations of restraining orders, among others.  An experienced criminal lawyer can assist you to understand whether you qualify to request the sealing of your criminal record.

Not all states allow for a criminal record to be sealed. Illinois has expanded their procedures which allow for sealing of a criminal record. The sealing laws align with Illinois public policy to allow certain offenders who have served their time to avoid the lifelong consequences of a criminal record. It is important to understand the difference between sealing and expungement. Sealing will not prevent your record from being used if you are convicted of a subsequent crime. However, it will allow you to have a second chance at finding a good job, or applying for professional licenses. This is beneficial if your criminal record has previously prevented you from doing so.  An experienced misdemeanor defense lawyer can assist you in understanding whether you qualify to request the sealing of your criminal record.

I am a former prosecutor and familiar with the local court system in Peoria and the surrounding areas. If you or someone you know is in need of assistance then contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation. I will be ready to assist you. In addition to Peoria, I also serve the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Shuyler, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.