In Illinois, felonies are those crimes that are punishable by the death penalty or a term of one year or more in state prison. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/2-7.)
In contrast, misdemeanors (less serious crimes) are punishable by less than one year in county jail.
For more information on misdemeanors in Illinois, see Illinois Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Felonies in Illinois (other than first degree murder) are designated by class, including:
- Class X felonies
- Class 1 felonies
- Class 2 felonies
- Class 3 felonies, and
- Class 4 felonies.
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-10.)
Murder in Illinois is punishable by the death penalty, life imprisonment, or a prison term of four to 100 years.
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-20, 5-4.5-30.)
Judges may sentence defendants to longer terms (called extended terms) if certain aggravating factors are present. There are many, many aggravating factors that can result in an extended term. A few examples of aggravating factors include:
- any prior criminal conviction by the defendant
- that the crime was a hate crime, or
- that the victim was over the age of 60.
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-5-3.2, 5/5-8-2.)
Class X Felony
Class X is the most serious class of felonies, and a class X felony is punishable by six to 30 years’ imprisonment. An extended term class X felony is punishable by 30 to 60 years in prison.
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-25.)
Battery with a firearm is a class X felony.
For more information assault with a deadly weapon, see Assault & Battery with a Deadly Weapon in Illinois.
Class 1 Felony
A class 1 felony is punishable by four to 15 years in prison. An extended term class 1 felony is punishable by 15 to 30 years. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-30.) For example, sexual assault is a class 1 felony.
For more information on Illinois’s penalties for sex crimes, see Illinois Sexual Battery Laws.
Class 2 Felony
In Illinois, conviction for a class 2 felony can result in a prison term of three to seven years, or seven to 14 years for an extended term. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-35.) For example, the criminal transmission of HIV is a class 2 felony.
For more information on criminal HIV transmission, see Transmitting an STD in Illinois.
Class 3 Felony
Under Illinois’s laws, a class 3 felony is punishable by two to five years’ imprisonment, while an extended term class 3 felony is punishable by five to ten years in prison. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-40.) Many assaults and batteries are class 3 felonies.
For more information, see Illinois Aggravated Assault & Battery Laws.
Class 4 Felony
Finally, a class 4 felony is punishable by one to three years in prison. An extended term class 4 felony is punishable by three to six years in prison. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-45.) For example, theft of government property worth less than $500 is a class 4 felony.
For more information on penalties for theft in Illinois, see Illinois Petty Theft and Other Theft Laws.
Fines and Restitution
In addition to a term of imprisonment, felonies are also punishable by a fine of up to $25,000. Defendants may also be required to pay restitution to their victims for any costs incurred by the victim as a result of the crime.
For example, a defendant who injures someone may have to pay the person’s medical bills as restitution. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-15, 5/5-4.5-50.)
Statutes of Limitations
A statute of limitations is a time limit after which criminal prosecution is not permitted. The most serious crimes (such as murder and some sex crimes against children) do not have statutes of limitations.
For more information, see Illinois Criminal Statute of Limitations.
Obtaining Legal Advice and Counsel
A felony conviction can have extremely serious consequences. In addition to time in prison and a large fine, a felony conviction can make it difficult to get a job, obtain a professional license, or get into certain educational programs, such as law school or nursing school. If you are charged with a felony in Illinois, the best way to avoid a conviction is to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney can advise you about the legal process and help you protect your rights.