It is a safe bet to assume that nobody likes dealing with lawyers. It is not the attorneys themselves that people dread, but rather what comes with having to hire them. If you need one, then chances are, you are in trouble with the law and you need legal representation. The biggest reason, though, why people dread having to deal with attorneys is because they assume it will cost them a fortune. This is obviously a misconception; yes, legal services aren’t cheap, but you can always find something within your budget range. In any case, if you are facing a felony or a misdemeanor, you don’t really have a choice and you have to hire a lawyer to represent you. But what exactly is the difference between those two?

 

Misdemeanor 

In layman’s terms, a misdemeanor is less serious than a felony, which is the most serious crime you can commit and entails serious consequences. Before we can get to misdemeanors, you should know there is a less serious offense –– an infraction or a petty crime. As the name implies, an infraction is the least serious of crimes, and it is usually punishable by small fines, and it rarely entails any jail time –– if it does, it will be under 5 days. It also won’t appear on your criminal record. The clearest examples of petty crimes include traffic tickets and littering. 

 

As for misdemeanors, they are often more serious than petty crimes, and they might entail a longer jail time and much bigger fines. If you go to jail on a misdemeanor charge, it will most likely be in a county or local jail rather than a federal or state institution. Jail time associated with misdemeanors is usually under one year. Class A misdemeanors entail jail time between 6 months and one year, Class B is 30 days to 6 months, and Class C is 5 to 30 days. 

How to Respond

Legal representation is a bit tricky with misdemeanors, especially in a city like Chicago, where misdemeanors are taken quite seriously and carry hefty terms/fines. If you cannot afford a private attorney, the state won’t provide you with one here. The trials are shorter and they might be in front of a judge or a jury, depending on the severity of the misdemeanor. This is why you need Chicago based lawyers to represent you if you were charged with a misdemeanor. You need experienced attorneys with years of practice to get you out of trouble because some of those misdemeanors can see you facing one year in prison in a trial that lasted a couple of days. So, you have to be prepared. 

Felonies 

As mentioned earlier, felonies are the most serious criminal offenses, and they carry the severest consequences. Murder, rape, arson, burglary, and kidnapping are examples of felonies –– crimes that are extreme and hated by society. The definition of a felony varies from one state to the other, and there isn’t a general consensus on what it means. But generally speaking, felonies entail over one year of jail time, and the incarceration is in a state or federal prison. There are certain classifications of felonies, though, according to federal law. Class A entails life in prison or death, B is 25 years or more, C is 10 to 25 years, D is 5 to 10 years, and E is 1 to 5 years. Punishment for felonies also can entail hefty fines, as well as some other complications like not being able to possess firearms after your term, serve on juries, or work certain jobs in the military or teaching. 

How to Respond

Legal representation is more straightforward with felonies since the cases are exponentially more complicated. If you can’t afford an attorney, the state will provide you with one. The indictment is also more complicated here. A lot of states require that the prosecutors get a grand jury indictment to charge someone with a felony, and in any case, felonies often entail a jury trial. Defendants are entitled to a speedy trial when charged with felonies, as their constitutional rights dictate. Your best choice if charged with a felony is to get a private lawyer because they are your only hope of avoiding serious jail times and the other consequences that come with this charge. State-appointed attorneys are often overworked and understaffed, so you don’t want to bet on them.

 

It is important that you understand those criminal offenses and what they mean because you might find yourself charged with one. That doesn’t even mean you’re a bad person or anything, but you might have a couple of drinks and drive home with your kids in the back, and that right there is a misdemeanor. So, you should learn these details to understand how you’ll respond if put in such a situation. 

 

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