Illinois Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences

Learn how Illinois defines and classifies felonies, the kinds of sentences judges may give for different classes of felonies, and when defendants may have to serve extra time in prison.

In Illinois (as in most states), crimes are considered felonies if the potential punishment includes at least a year in state prison (or the death penalty). In contrast, misdemeanors in Illinois are punishable by less than one year in county jail.

Illinois law groups felonies into different classes for purposes of sentencing. The most serious felonies are first-degree murder (which is in its own class) and Class X felonies. After that, in descending order of seriousness, are Class 1 through Class 4. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/2-7, 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-10 (2020).)

What Kinds of Sentences Are Allowed in Illinois for Felonies?

After a defendant pleads guilty or is convicted of a felony, the judge will impose one or more of the penalties allowed under Illinois law for that class of crime, including:

  • a "determinate" sentence to state prison, meaning that the judge will sentence the defendant to a set amount of time (rather than a sentence such as “25 years to life”)
  • periodic imprisonment, under which the defendant may be committed to a county, municipal, or regional correctional institution for periods of time (not allowed for the most serious felonies); and
  • probation or conditional release (not allowed for Class X felonies).

Except for life sentences, every sentence of imprisonment must also include a period of mandatory supervised release (known as parole in most states) after the defendant has served the time in prison. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-15, 5/5-7-1 (2020).)

Sentencing Rules in Illinois for Felony Classes

The statutes related to particular crimes will specify the class of felony to which that crime belongs. In general, a judge must impose a sentence within the range for the relevant felony class. However, some individual felonies have sentence ranges that are different than the class as a whole.

In addition, Illinois law calls for more severe sentences under certain circumstances. Judges may sentence defendants to longer terms of imprisonment (called extended terms) based on a long list of aggravating factors, including when the defendant:

  • has a criminal history
  • caused or threatened serious harm
  • committed the crime against an elder (60 or over) or disabled person, or
  • targeted the victim because of race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.

The state also has special sentencing guidelines for defendants who are convicted of certain weapons charges and have previous convictions. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-10, 5/5-4.5-110, 5/5-5-3.2, 5/5-8-2 (2020).)

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is in its own class of felony in Illinois. Anyone convicted of first-degree murder must be sentenced to a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison (or between 60 and 100 years for an extended term). The sentence will be life in prison or death penalty when certain aggravating factors are present. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/9-1; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-20 (2020).)

Class X Felonies

Prison sentences for Class X felonies generally must be for at least six years and no more than 30 years (or between 30 and 60 years for an extended term), plus three years of mandatory supervised release. Judges may not sentence anyone convicted of a Class X felony to periodic imprisonment, probation, or conditional release. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-25 (2020).)

Class X felonies include:

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3.05, 5/19-6, 5/33A-1, 5/33A-2, 5/33A-3, 646-16 (2020).)

Class 1 Felonies

In general, Illinois law sets the prison sentence for Class 1 felonies at between four and 15 years (or 15 to 30 years for an extended term), plus two years of mandatory supervision. Unless the defendant committed the crime while serving probation for a previous felony, judges may impose a sentence of probation or conditional discharge for up to four years. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-30 (2020).)

Some examples of Class 1 felonies:

  • burglary of a residence, school, or place of worship
  • criminal sexual assault (for instance, using force or when the victim can’t consent), and
  • second-degree murder.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/9-2, 5/11-1.20, 5/19-1, 5/19-3 (2020).)

Class 2 Felonies

Prison sentences for Class 2 felonies in Illinois are generally between three and seven years (or between seven and 14 years for an extended term), plus up to two years of mandatory supervised release. The judge may impose a sentence of periodic imprisonment (between 18 and 30 months) or up to four years of probation or conditional release. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-35 (2020).)

Class 2 felonies include:

  • aggravated domestic battery (causing severe injury or involving strangulation)
  • robbery, and
  • unlawful purchase (or attempted purchase) of a firearm.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3/3, 5/18-1, 5/24-3.5 (2020).)

Class 3 Felonies

Class 3 felonies generally carry a potential prison sentence of between two and five years (or an extended term between five and ten years), plus one year of mandatory supervised release. People convicted of a Class 3 felony may be sentenced to periodic imprisonment for up to 18 months or to probation for up to 30 months. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-40 (2020).)

Crimes that are categorized as Class 3 felonies include:

  • aggravated battery that doesn’t include special circumstances (such as when it involves certain vulnerable victims or protected places)
  • theft of property worth between $500 and $10,000, and
  • possession of less than five grams of meth.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3.05, 5/16-1, 646/60 (2020).)

Class 4 Felonies

A Class 4 felony is usually punishable by:

  • one to three years in prison (or three to six years for an extended term), plus one year of supervised release
  • periodic imprisonment for a term of up to 18 months, and/or
  • up to 30 months of probation or conditional release.

Crimes that are designated as felonies but aren’t given a classification are considered Class 4 felonies. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-85 (2020).)

Following are a few examples of Class 4 felonies in Illinois:

  • identity theft (including credit card fraud) of credit, money, or property worth $300 or less (first offense)
  • using someone’s credit or debit card without consent
  • selling stolen property online if it’s worth $300 or less, and
  • unauthorized possession of a blank or altered prescription form.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/16-30, 5/16-40, 5/17-38, 570/406.2 (2020).)

Fines and Restitution

In addition to a sentence of imprisonment and/or probation, judges may order convicted defendants to pay a fine and/or restitution to their victims for their financial losses resulting from the crime. In general, felony fines are between $75 and $25,000, but some crimes may set different limits. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § § 5/5-4.5-15, 5/5-4.5-50 (2020).)

Illinois' Criminal Statutes of Limitations for Felonies

A statute of limitations is a time limit for filing a legal case—in the case of criminal proceedings, for filing charges. The criminal statute of limitations in Illinois for felonies is generally three years from the time of the alleged crime. But some very serious felonies (like murder or sex crimes) have no time limit, and some other crimes have extended limitations periods.

Getting Legal Help

A felony conviction can have serious, long-term consequences. Besides a prison sentence, having a felony on your record 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 speak with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who can help protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome under the circumstances.

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