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Criminal Traffic Offenses: Misdemeanor or Felony?

Posted on in Traffic violations

elgin traffic lawyerThe distinctions between misdemeanors and felonies in regard to traffic crimes can be very vague and confusing. While misdemeanors are generally much less serious crimes than felonies, several variables play a role in determining the severity of the crime and the appropriate punishments. Traffic citations are very common, but drivers should keep in mind that one error can lead to very harsh consequences. Drivers who are facing charges for a traffic crime, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony, should understand what penalties they could face and what rights they should be taking advantage of. 

Classifying a Traffic Offense

There is an additional classification of traffic violations that are categorized as infractions or petty offenses. The majority of traffic violations result in an infraction and will not escalate to a misdemeanor unless other humans or property were harmed due to the violation. Although felonies arising from traffic violations are rare, if the defendant is a repeat offender or the violation directly caused fatalities, they will likely face a felony conviction. 

Misdemeanor traffic violations include DUIs, driving without a valid license, driving without insurance, and reckless driving. In contrast, felony convictions are generally saved for much more serious, often violent crimes. However, if the defendant is a repeat offender or if their actions lead to property damage, injuries, or death, the offense will likely be escalated to a felony. For instance, there are many jurisdictions that will escalate these violations to a felony based on extenuating circumstances:

The Differences in Penalties

There is a large grey area when determining when a traffic offense will result in a misdemeanor versus a felony, however, there is a substantial difference in penalties between the two crime classifications. 

Because misdemeanors are typically much less serious crimes, the convictions have less severe punishments. Misdemeanors are usually accompanied by a fine or less than a year of incarceration in the county jail. Similar to non-traffic-related offenses, the defendant will be required to post a bail bond after being taken into custody. Other punishments that could result from a traffic misdemeanor or traffic felony include community service, license suspension or revocation, probation or parole, or vehicle immobilization or impoundment. 

 Felonies result in longer and harsher sentences that are served in a prison, instead of the county jail. In addition to a 1-year minimum prison sentence, the conviction will likely require the payment of substantial fines. 

Contact Our Elgin, IL Traffic Violations Attorney

Whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or felony due to your traffic offense, you maintain your constitutional right to representation by legal counsel. It is evident that there can be very thin lines between the two classifications depending on each unique circumstance. Our Kane County traffic violation attorney will help you to determine what you are up against and how best to fight charges. Contact the Law Office of Brian J. Mirandola to schedule your free consultation by calling 847-488-0889.



Sources:

https://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/ilcs4.asp?DocName=070501350HArt%2E+1&ActID=3898&ChapterID=50&SeqStart=100000&SeqEnd=500000

 

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