Probation, conditional discharge, and supervision: The same or different?

Whether one receives probation, conditional discharge, or court supervision often depends on the classification of the offense. It is important to know the differences between a felony, a misdemeanor, and a petty offense. A petty offense is distinguishable from a class offense in that it is not punishable by jail time and is punishable by a fine only. A “felony” is an offense punishable for an excess of one year in jail or imprisonment in a correctional facility, and a "misdemeanor" has a maximum punishment of less than one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. 720 ILCS 5/2-7.  There are three classes of misdemeanors, which include class A, class B, and class C. A class A misdemeanor is the most serious of misdemeanors. A class A misdemeanor is punishable for up to 364 days in jail and or a fine or up to $2,500. A class B misdemeanor is punishable for up to 180 days in jail and or a fine of up to $1,500. A class C misdemeanor is punishable for up to 30 days in jail and or a fine of up to $1,500. A judge will also have the discretion to sentence you to other forms of punishment, which could include community service or monitoring.

For misdemeanor offenses, there are three varying sentences that can be given. All of these three sentences vary in their nature. These three sentences are probation, conditional discharge, and court supervision. The first possible sentence is probation. Probation entails a conviction and conditions that are set by the court that must be met and maintained by the offender. These conditions may entail community service, a fine, or close monitoring. Probation is substantially more intensive and will require an offender to report to a probation officer on a daily basis. 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-15.

The second sentence is conditional discharge. The severity of conditional discharge lies between court probation and court supervision. Conditional discharge differs from probation in that the offender is not required to report to a probation officer. Conditional discharge often requires less oversight of the offender. Probation is given a lot in juvenile cases. Conditional discharge entails a possible sentence of up to two years for a misdemeanor with certain conditions assigned by the judicial court that must be met and maintained by the offender. The offender be ordered to complete community service, pay a fine, undergo treatment, counseling, or be monitored closely.

The third of the dispositions is court supervision. Court supervision is the least severe of the possible sentences. Court supervision does not entail a conviction or jail time and can be expunged after completion of the sentence. Court supervision is the least restrictive among the three sentencing options. Moreover, court supervision is the minimal sentence allowed and often provides the defendant the option of having the case expunged after the term of supervision has expired.

If you are charged with a class A misdemeanor, you should retain an attorney. It is viably important that you retain an experienced attorney, as there are serious consequences for one facing a misdemeanor charge. A conviction for a misdemeanor offense could result in fines, jail time, and lost employment opportunities along with a permanent criminal record.

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