Martin & Kent, L.L.C. Martin & Kent, L.L.C.

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Infractions, misdemeanors and felonies

Illinois residents may wonder how an infraction differs from a misdemeanor or felony. An infraction is generally a minor offense like speeding. It is usually punishable by a fine. However, individuals who repeatedly ignore fines for infractions may face more serious repercussions.

The more serious misdemeanor may carry penalties of up to a year in jail although penalties may also be considerably less. People charged with a misdemeanor might have the opportunity to plea bargain. There is usually a wide latitude of punishments that judges can decide from, and prosecutors also tend to have considerable flexibility in what charges they can pursue.

The most serious of all is the felony. Kidnapping, murder, rape and burglary are all examples of felonies. Felonies require strict courtroom procedures and may result in incarceration that last longer than a year. A wide range of other punishments are also possible.

A person who is facing charges for a misdemeanor or a felony may wish to speak to an attorney who handles criminal defense matters. Legal counsel will discuss the person's options as well as the potential parameters for the punishment. Depending on the circumstances, a person might plead innocent and go to trial, or a plea bargain may be a preferable alternative. It might also be possible to have a case dismissed if there were errors in procedure. A number of factors may be weighed in deciding which course of action is the best including the strength of the evidence, the severity of the penalty should a conviction be obtained and the impact on the defendant's life.

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