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.
Felonies in Illinois (other than first degree murder) are designated by class, including:
(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:
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § § 5/5-5-3.2, 5/5-8-2.)
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.)
For example, battery with a firearm is a class X 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.