Even those who do not know a whole lot about the law know that criminal charges come in one of two types: misdemeanors or felonies. And they probably also know that felonies are more serious and come with harsher penalties.
But that in no way means that a misdemeanor charge isn’t something serious. Every single charge defined in a 720 ILCS statute has the potential to negatively impact your life in a major way. All “misdemeanor” means, as defined under Illinois law, is that the potential jail time you face has to be less than a year.
You read that right. If you are up against a misdemeanor in our state, you may be looking at jail time, probation, high fines, other civil and administrative penalties, and – of course – a lifelong criminal record. These are things that can upend your entire life, drain your savings, and make it incredibly difficult to do things like secure a good job, find housing, get a loan, or obtain certain professional licenses.
As a former Cook County prosecutor, Chicago criminal attorney Andrew M. Weisberg has witnessed the devastating effects of misdemeanor convictions firsthand. His time in the prosecutor’s office has also provided him with a unique insight into how prosecutors work and the best ways to poke holes in their arguments while crafting a strong defense.
These kinds of tactics are especially important if you are facing a Class A misdemeanor.
As misdemeanor charges go, a Class A charge is as bad as it gets in the state of Illinois. You will be up against the harshest possible misdemeanor penalties, and you need someone on your side who can counter every argument made against you and aggressively push back to get you the best possible outcome.
Unlike most crimes in our state, Class A misdemeanors are not governed under 720 ILCS. Instead, this charge is under 730 ILCS.
Here is how Illinois statute 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55 details what defendants could be facing when they get charged with this offense:
Imprisonment. You can face a jail sentence of less than a year – up to 364 days – except in those situations outlined under Section 5-5-3 or 5-7-1 (730 ILCS 5/5-5-3 or 5/5-7-1).
Hefty fines. This charge comes with an attached fine of up to $2,500.
Restitution. You may be required to pay restitution to your victim or victims for any monetary loss that you caused them.
Community service. You may be required to perform a certain number of hours of community service. Depending upon the county where you were charged, you may need to perform this service through the probation office or sheriff’s department or through a non-profit organization. Cook County allows individuals to take on community service using SWAP – the Sheriff’s Work Alternative Program – or Social Services.
Supervision. This involves having a judgement entered against you – but not actually getting convicted. Your case will be continued for a specific period of time (often a year), and you will be asked to complete certain requirements and not violate any more laws. If you are able to do this, the court will dismiss your charge.
Probation. If you are sentenced to probation, you will have a strict set of rules that you must follow, including regularly reporting to a probation officer. Probation for this type of charge can be as long as two years.
Conditional discharge. Kind of like probation without the requirement of reporting to a probation officer or department. You will be released or “discharged” from jail as long as you agree to follow a series of conditions, including not violating the law.
Work release. You will be imprisoned periodically, but released so that you may be able to continue working.
Electronic home monitoring. Instead of being incarcerated in an actual jail, you may be sentenced to home detention with an ankle monitor alerting officials if you attempt to leave.
Some of these outcomes are obviously better than others, and Mr. Weisberg understands how to craft a defense to make a push for whichever one you prefer. But that is merely a backup plan. If you work with Andrew M. Weisberg, his first goal will be to make sure you understand what you are up against with this particular ILCS, then look at the case from every possible angle to see if there is anything that he can do to get your charges reduced – or even dropped altogether.
There are a number of ways that a knowledgeable defense lawyer may be able to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. Here are just a few that Andrew M. Weisberg has encountered that have enabled him to successfully get charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed in the past:
Victim stops cooperating. Sometimes prosecutors base a large portion of their case around an alleged victim and that individual’s testimony. If this person stops talking to the prosecutor or simply tells them they do not want to move forward, the prosecution’s case against you essentially disintegrates. It should be noted that even if an alleged victim says they want to drop charges, the final decision lies with the prosecutor. This is where a skilled defender comes in, applying pressure to get the prosecutor to act.
Insufficient evidence. You were charged because law enforcement thought that they had a strong case against you based on the 730 ILCS, but after really looking at the evidence, the prosecutor or judge decides there’s not enough evidence to continue. Andrew M. Weisberg believes that part of his job is encouraging them to come to that decision by calling evidence into question and providing ample evidence that supports your innocence.
Compelling contradictory evidence. In some cases, witnesses come forward with accounts that contradict the information that led to you being charged in the first place. Mr. Weisberg excels at finding these individuals – if any exist in your case – and making sure their voices are heard. Besides witness testimony, contradictory scientific evidence (like a DNA test that refutes your involvement) can cause charges to be reduced or dismissed.
Legal issues and rights violations. By and large, law enforcement officers are very good at their jobs and work hard to closely follow the letter of the law and protect the rights of everyone – even those they are arresting. Sometimes, though, things go wrong. Maybe evidence was gathered illegally, or mishandled. Perhaps you were improperly detained or held in custody for too long. These are things that should not happen, and an experienced criminal lawyer will know how to raise concerns about them to help your case.
Andrew M. Weisberg can absolutely help you with your Class A Misdemeanor charge, just as he has done for countless others. His clear understanding of statute 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55 means he knows exactly what you are up against and what prosecutors need to prove in order to get you convicted. He can tailor your defense to call their claims into question while supporting your innocence in the matter. And he will always work tirelessly to get you the best possible outcome.
But he cannot do these things until you reach out to him. The longer you wait, the more time the prosecution has to build their case against you with no one fighting in your corner.
So do not delay. Set up a free initial consultation today by filling out our free online case review form, sending Mr. Weisberg an email directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling our office at 312-444-0011.