Illinois criminal statutes classify each criminal offense as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The law then further divides offenses into certain classes of misdemeanors and felonies. The particular classification of your charge will depend on the circumstances surrounding your particular case, and the potential penalties you face will depend on the class of charge.
Felony charges in Illinois are divided into the following categories:
- Class 4 felony (the least serious)
- Class 3 felony
- Class 2 felony
- Class 1 felony
- Class X felony
- First degree murder (the most serious)
As you can see, first degree murder is not included in any class and is instead treated as a separate charge with its own set of potential penalties that are more serious than the highest Class X felony.
Class 4 felonies include offenses such as possession of a small amount of a controlled substance, aggravated, assault, or stalking. On the other edge of the spectrum, Class X felonies include aggravated criminal sexual assault, battery with a firearm, armed robbery, aggravated kidnapping, and more.
If you have been charged with a felony, you face potentially severe consequences. The law allows a court to sentence some felony defendants to intensive probation, however Class X convictions come with mandatory time behind bars if you are convicted. The following are the penalties for felony charges set out by law:
- Class 4 felony—1-3 years in state prison.
- Class 3 felony—2-5 years in state prison.
- Class 2 felony—3-7 years in state prison.
- Class 1 felony—4-15 years in state prison.
- Class X felony—6-30 years in state prison.
- First degree murder—20-60 years in state prison.
In addition to a prison sentence, every felony conviction comes with the possibility of a fine of up to $25,000.
Extended Prison Sentences
If certain aggravating factors are present in your case, the prison sentence may be extended for each class of felony conviction. The list of potential aggravating factors is long, and can include prior criminal convictions on your record, the age or identity of the alleged victim, and whether the offense was believed to have been a hate crime motivated by bias.
In addition to court-imposed penalties, Illinois law sets out other possible consequences of felony convictions. For example, a felony conviction may have the following effects:
- Deportation or other immigration consequences
- Inability to vote
- Sex offender registry
- Denial or revocation of professional licenses
- Inability to own or possess firearms
- Disqualification for certain jobs
- Restrictions on where you can live or travel
As you can see, even if you do not receive a jail sentence, a felony conviction can have far-reaching effects on many aspects of your life.
Felony convictions are extremely serious and you should always have an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney representing you in your case. Attorney Steven Goldman works to get felony charges amended and the potential penalties you face reduced. If you have been charged with a felony, contact Goldman & Associates as soon as possible for help.