What is a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois?

by Sami Azhari on April 10, 2011

Class C Misdemeanor

The Class C misdemeanor in Illinois is an atypical offense. Most misdemeanor offenses are categorized as Class A misdemeanors, not Class C misdemeanors.

The law in Illinois says that a person charged with a Class C misdemeanor is subject to a maximum 30 days imprisonment and fine of $1,500.

On the books, there are three types of misdemeanor offenses:

  1. Class A misdemeanors.
  2. Class B misdemeanors.
  3. Class C misdemeanors.

The potential penalties adhere to a hierarchy suggested by the above list. Class A misdemeanors are the most severe. Their penalty is up to one year imprisonment and a fine of $2,500. For Class B misdemeanor offenses, the maximum period of incarceration is 180 days jail, and the maximum fine is $1,500.

A Class C misdemeanor is the lowest form of a criminal offense in Illinois. Basically, it is one step above a petty offense, a business offense, or an ordinance violation. For those three types of offenses, the court cannot sentence the defendant to imprisonment. Instead, the only punishment the judge can impose on a finding of guilt is a fine. These offenses are called quasi-criminal offenses because the procedure involved in court is similar to the procedure on a criminal charge. The person who stands accused is called the defendant and the prosecution must prove him guilty. But the burden of proof is preponderance of the evidence. For instance, the prosecution must show it is more likely true than not that the defendant is guilty. Also, the penalty is civil in nature. That is, the judge can only impose a fine.

A Class C misdemeanor, though, is a criminal offense, and the procedure is the same for any crime, including first degree murder. The defendant is presumed innocent, the State has the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, etc.

Examples of Class C misdemeanors include the following:

  • Disorderly conduct. 720 ILCS 5/26-1.
  • Possession of less than 2.5 grams of cannabis. 720 ILCS 550/4.
  • Assault. 720 ILCS 5/12-1.

While there are other Class C misdemeanor statutory offenses, they are very seldom, if ever, charged by the prosecutor.

But I would caution you that a Class C misdemeanor is a very serious matter. The reason is, if you are found guilty of the offense, you will have a criminal record. Employers who do background checks do not care that the offense was only a Class C misdemeanor. In fact, they probably would never know the difference. The only thing that matters to them is that the job applicant has a record for possession of cannabis, assault, or disorderly conduct.

What is more, a conviction for a Class C misdemeanor will permanently disqualify that person from ever expunging that record. The offense could be from when the defendant was 17 years old, but the record will carry on forever.

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