Illinois state laws, which cover Chicago, divide crimes into three different categories. Petty offenses, such as traffic violations, are the least serious, and offenders usually just pay a fine. Misdemeanor crimes can receive a maximum of 364 days in a local or city jail. Felonies, which include more serious offenses, carry longer sentences in prison.

Misdemeanor Classification

A crime is typically classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on the severity of the offense. For example, possession of marijuana under a certain amount might be a misdemeanor, while possession of a larger amount can result in a felony. This principle also applies to theft, as the value of the stolen property determines the severity of the criminal charges.

Misdemeanors are categorized into three groups: class A, class B and class C. Class A crimes are the most serious while class C crimes are the least severe. Class A misdemeanor crimes can receive up to 364 days in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. In some cases, offenders might also receive probation, need to complete community service hours, or need to attend counseling. Class A misdemeanors include property damage, child endangerment, prostitution, theft, and possession of drug paraphernalia.

A class B misdemeanor can result in a sentence of up to 180 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,500. Examples of class B misdemeanor crimes include criminal trespassing, harassment, and possession of marijuana between 2.5 and 10 grams.

A class C misdemeanor offense can receive a sentence of up to 30 days in jail with a fine of up to $1,500. Examples of class C misdemeanors include assault, disorderly conduct, and possession of less than 2.5 grams of marijuana.

Handling Misdemeanor Crimes

Misdemeanor courts handle these offenses, which usually allows the cases to go through the court process more quickly than felonies. The state can charge someone with a misdemeanor crime based on information from a police report or through a written complaint. A grand jury does not usually investigate these lesser offenses, and misdemeanor crimes do not require settlement through jury trials. If a defendant wants a jury trial, he or his lawyer will need to request it and pay the associated costs if the courts find him guilty.

Expunging a Criminal Record

An offender might be able to seal or expunge a criminal record in some situations. A sealed record is closed and only available for review under limited circumstances. An expunged file is completely destroyed as if it had never existed. A person’s criminal record cannot include any crimes for the past five years if he would like to have his record sealed or expunged. The Clerk of the Circuit Court handles the process for anyone who needs help with requesting a sealed or expunged record.