If you’re like the average citizen, you probably do everything in your power to abide by local and federal laws. As such, if you’re facing conviction for a crime you aren’t guilty of, you might be feeling overwhelmed, frustrated, and scared. However, even though these feelings are completely normal and valid given the circumstances, it’s of the utmost importance you remain calm and focused. Doing so will ensure you think critically to protect your name, your legacy, your freedom, and your future.
Unfortunately, far too many people let their emotions get the best of them in these circumstances, and they end up making choices that are detrimental to their case. For example, they might think they’re better off without an attorney representing their interests. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
The following guide highlights some of the penalties you might face if you are convicted, as well as explains why you’re more likely to face these penalties if you opt for self-representation.
What Are the Penalties for Felonies and Misdemeanors?
The Difference Between a Misdemeanor & Felony
As soon as you found out you were being charged with a crime, your first and most prominent concern was likely what the penalties would be if you were wrongfully convicted. The answer to this question can vary significantly, and it will all depend on whether you’re charged and convicted of a misdemeanor or felony.
Although these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, there are some significant differences that separate them. Most importantly, individuals who are convicted of felonies almost always face penalties that are significantly more severe than those who are convicted of a misdemeanor.
The latter, which are considered less serious, are typically thought of as crimes that weren’t intentionally malicious or didn’t directly cause the physical harm of another individual. Some common examples of misdemeanors include the possession of minor drugs, like marijuana, public intoxication, trespassing, disorderly conduct, vandalism, or reckless driving.
Felonies, on the other hand, are considered dangerous and severe. Common examples include murder, manslaughter, armed robbery, drug trafficking, sexual assault, arson, DUI, and money laundering.
If you are charged with a misdemeanor, your case will be characterized by either Class A, B, or C. Class A is considered the most severe of these categorizations, with maximum penalties including up to $500 in fines and a year of prison time.
As previously stated, felonies are considered far more severe. As a result, the penalties are much harsher. Depending on what you were charged with, you could face anywhere from a 40-year to lifetime sentence in prison, plus up to $10,000 in fines.
Why You Shouldn’t Risk Representing Yourself in a Criminal Case
Unfortunately, it’s all too common for innocent individuals to face wrongful conviction, simply because they didn’t know how to handle themselves in court. Although you might think it’s easy to present your case and prove why you aren’t guilty, it’s crucial you enlist professional services.
Without proper and extensive legal education, courtroom training, and experience putting together a solid defense, it will prove near impossible to successfully articulate your case. If you don’t know what you’re doing, you could accidentally make yourself seem liable by saying the wrong thing or presenting the wrong kind of evidence.
Your best bet is to hire a Chicago defense attorney to help represent your interests in an upcoming trial. They will not only prepare a solid case, but they’ll coach you through every step of the process to ensure you don’t make any mistakes that could cost you your freedom.