If you are facing criminal charges in Cook County, you may worry about what might happen if the court convicts you. For instance, if a police officer charges you for driving under the influence (DUI), you could potentially end up spending time in jail and get saddled with expensive court costs and fines. Unfortunately, the penalties may not end there.
A criminal conviction can affect your life in many ways unrelated to jail time or fines. For example, you could lose your job — or if you are a student — your financial aid. In addition, you could also face other court ordered penalties.
Courts use probation as a way to limit certain liberties for people with criminal convictions. Generally, probation includes periodic meetings with a probation officer, finding and maintaining gainful employment, paying fines related to the conviction and possibly taking part in some kind of rehabilitation program. In some cases, the court will order probation instead of sending the convicted individual to jail. This means that if the individual violates the terms of the probation, he could end up in jail.
Another penalty that the court might impose is restitution. The court could order you to pay for any property damage or theft that occurred during the alleged crime. For example, if you receive a DUI due to a car accident that damaged someone else's car or other property, the court might require you to pay the victim for the damages.
The court might place you under house arrest. While you would be able to leave your home for certain things like doctor appointments or to attend 12-step meetings, you would not be allowed to leave for other reasons. This means no trips to the supermarket, mall, the movies or to visit your best friend. You might also have to pay for the monitoring equipment and services that the court uses to determine if you leave your home without permission.
Community service is a very common penalty that the court levies on convicted defendants. In many cases, it accompanies a low-level charge or is a condition of probation. The court may require you to work a certain number of hours with a charity or some other organization. You could end up picking up litter on the side of the highway, working with the local food bank or even cleaning graffiti from walls around the city. If you fail to complete the community service requirements, the court might order you to pay additional fines or even send you to jail.
If you are facing a criminal charge, a conviction could end up costing you more than jail time and fines. With a strong defense, you might be able to avoid a conviction and keep your criminal record clean.