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A Breakdown of Illinois Sentencing Guidelines

Getting Convicted in Illinois

You may be charged with a felony or misdemeanor after committing a criminal offense in Illinois. However, understanding the potential consequences that come with a conviction is important.

After conviction, the judge will decide on the appropriate sentence in your case. But, they must consider several mitigating and aggravating factors. Additionally, they must follow specific guidelines under Illinois law before imposing a sentence.

Keep reading to know the answers to your questions about Illinois sentencing guidelines.

Illinois Felony Classification System

You may have wondered, “What Restrictions Do Felons Have in Illinois?

Felony crimes carry a harsh criminal sentence, huge fines, and prison time equal to or exceeding one year. Serious violent felonies may result in mandatory or longer prison sentences. Additionally, Illinois courts may deny bail if they deem you a serious threat to the public.

According to Illinois general sentencing provisions (730 ILCS 5/5-4.5), felonies are classified as follows:

  • First-degree murder: Before its abolishment in 2011, the death penalty was the maximum sentence applicable to this crime. The maximum sentence for murder in the first degree now is life imprisonment. If the judge decides a determinate prison term is appropriate, it is between twenty to sixty years. Extended terms can be between sixty to a hundred years.

  • Class X felony: The sentence of imprisonment is between six to thirty years in prison. An extended term for an X felony carries thirty to sixty years of prison time.

  • Class 1 felony: They carry a term of imprisonment between four and fifteen years. If the offense is second-degree murder, the term is between four and twenty years. An extended term is between fifteen and thirty years.

  • Class 2 felony: The sentence for imprisonment is between three and seven years. Extended terms are between seven to fourteen years.

  • Class 3 felony: Class 3 felonies carry a sentence between two and five years. An extended-term Class 3 felony is between five to ten years.

  • Class 4 felony: This carries a determinate prison sentence between one and three years. An extended-term Class 4 felony is between three and six years.

Illinois Misdemeanor Classification System

Misdemeanor crimes carry lower penalties but can seriously impact your personal life. They are classified as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanors: The potential jail sentence is less than one year.

  • Class B misdemeanors: The sentence of imprisonment is not more than six months and is served in a county jail.

  • Class C misdemeanors: It is the lowest classification of misdemeanor crime in Illinois. The sentence of imprisonment is not more than thirty days and is served in a county jail.

Penalties for Crimes in Illinois

The judge may punish felonies and misdemeanors by the following punishments alone or in combination. These penalties include:

  • A period of probation

  • A term of periodic imprisonment

  • A term of conditional discharge

  • A term of imprisonment

  • A fine of not more than $25,000 for felonies

  • A fine of not more than $2,500 for Class A misdemeanors, up to 1,500$ for Class B and C misdemeanors

  • Restitution to the victim

  • Participation in an impact incarceration program

  • A term of imprisonment in combination with probation (for offenders admitted into a drug court program)

  • Reimbursement of costs for the local emergency response to fire (for an arson offense)

  • Parole or mandatory supervised release

Aggravating Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

Aggravating and mitigating factors identified as potential aspects of a case may affect your sentence. Some aggravating factors, as defined in 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.2, include:

  • Conduct that causes or threatens serious harm

  • Receiving compensation for committing a crime

  • History of previous delinquency or criminal activity

  • The defendant was under an obligation to prevent the offense or bring the offenders to justice

  • The sentence is necessary to deter people from committing the same criminal offense

  • Abuse of a public office

  • Use of professional reputation to commit the crime

  • The victim was sixty years or above

  • The victim had a physical disability

  • The offense was motivated by race, religion, or sexual orientation

  • The crime occurred in a place of worship, school, or nursing home

  • Felony conviction while on pretrial release

  • Crime is related to organized gang activity

Mitigating Factors Considered by Illinois Courts

A skilled criminal defense lawyer in Chicago may utilize the mitigating factors described in 730 ILCS 5/5-5-3.1 to craft an effective defense strategy against the criminal charges you face. A few such mitigating factors have been listed below:

  • The conduct did not threaten or cause serious harm

  • The defendant didn’t contemplate serious harm would be caused

  • Acting under strong provocation

  • The defendant has compensated the victim for damage or injury

  • Substantial grounds exist to excuse or justify the criminal conduct

  • Conduct was facilitated or induced by someone else

  • No prior conviction or history of criminal activity

  • The conduct was a result of circumstances that are unlikely to recur

  • The defendant exhibits characteristics showing they are unlikely to continue committing crimes

  • The likelihood of complying with the terms of probation

  • The defendant had a serious mental illness at the time of the offense

  • Imprisonment would endanger the defendant’s medical condition

  • The defendant was a domestic violence victim at the time of the offense

Sentencing Process in Illinois

After the court finds you guilty, they will begin the sentencing process. At the sentencing hearing, they will impose a sentence within the range of authorized dispositions permitted under Illinois law. You may need to complete a pre-sentence investigation (PSI) before the hearing.

The PSI will provide the court with general information about the defendant, including their criminal history. The judge will consider the evidence received at the trial and all other necessary factors. The judge will impose a sentence after considering all the evidence and arguments presented.

Appealing a Sentence in Illinois

You can appeal your sentence by filing a Notice of Appeal. This petition is usually filed with the Circuit Court Clerk of the Circuit Court that heard your case the first time around. The court will review the issues raised by you in your petition.

You cannot present witnesses or reargue your case during an appeal. A new trial may be ordered if the court finds issues with its decision. You must file the appeal within thirty days after the order of your sentence.

Speak to a Lawyer at the Hirsch Law Group

A felony charge on your criminal record will affect several areas of your life. Criminal convictions may remain on your record permanently and come at a huge cost to you and your family.

You can increase the chances of getting a fair sentence if you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney. At the Hirsch Law Group, we can argue that mitigating factors justify a more lenient sentence.

We provide professional legal representation to our clients in Illinois. Our understanding of criminal law allows for an effective defense against the prosecution. Our lawyers can also fight to help you improve your chances of getting a favorable outcome.

Consider hiring a Chicago federal criminal defense lawyer if you are facing criminal charges. Contact us to schedule a free consultation today!