Illinois Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences

Learn which crimes are considered misdemeanors in Illinois, the possible sentences for each class of misdemeanor, and alternative sentencing for these less-serious crimes.

By , Legal Editor

In Illinois, as in most states, a crime is treated as a misdemeanor if it may be punished by less than a year in a local or county jail. More serious crimes (felonies) are punishable by a year or more in state prison. Petty offenses, which are less serious than misdemeanors, carry only a fine. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/2-7, 5/2-11; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-1-17 (2020)).

Different Kinds of Penalties for Misdemeanors in Illinois

Jail sentences aren't the only possible penalty for misdemeanors in Illinois. Instead of, or in addition to, time behind bars, judges may impose any combination of various sentencing alternatives, including:

  • probation or conditional discharge
  • a fine
  • periodic imprisonment (only for jail sentences of 90 days or less), which involves release from jail for periods of time to allow the prisoner to do things like work, look for a job, attend school, take care of family needs, or live at home with an electronic monitoring device; and
  • an order to pay restitution to the victim, which is required if the victim was injured or suffered property damage as a result of the crime.

Any jail sentence must be for a set period of time (a "determinate sentence") and must include a period of mandatory supervised release (similar to parole) after the prisoner gets out.

When a defendant pleads guilty to a misdemeanor, the judge may place the defendant under supervision for a reasonable time (up to two years), with conditions. The judge will then hold off any further proceedings until the supervision period is over. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-15, 5/5-4.5-70, 5/5-5-6, 5/5-7-1 (2020).)

Illinois Sentencing Limits for Misdemeanor Classes

In order of seriousness, misdemeanors are grouped into Class A, Class B, or Class C. Each class has a range of possible sentences or fines, although the laws related to some individual crimes may have different sentencing limits. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-10 (2020).)

Class A Misdemeanors

The general sentences for Class A misdemeanors in Illinois include:

  • less than a year in jail or periodic imprisonment
  • up to two years of probation or conditional discharge, and/or
  • a fine of at least $75 and no more $2,500.

Examples of Class A misdemeanors include:

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3, 5/12-3.2, 5/12-3.4, 5/12-3.9, 5/16-1, 5/16-25; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-55, 5/5-4.5-85 (2020).)

Class B Misdemeanors

A conviction for a Class B misdemeanor can result in a sentence of:

  • up to six months in jail or periodic imprisonment
  • up to two years of probation, and/or
  • a fine of between $75 and $1,500.

For instance, the following crimes are Class B misdemeanors in Illinois:

  • possession of more than 10 grams but less than 30 grams of cannabis
  • using electronic communications to harass someone (sometimes called cyberbullying), and
  • dumping garbage on someone else's property without consent (which has a minimum $500 fine).

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/26.5-3, 5/26.5-5, 5/47-15, 550/4; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-60 (2020).)

Class C Misdemeanors

Class C misdemeanors, the least serious crimes in Illinois, generally may be punished by:

  • up to 30 days in jail or periodic imprisonment
  • up to two years of probation, and/or
  • a fine of $75 to $1,500.

Crimes that are treated as Class C misdemeanors include:

  • simple assault (doing something that makes the victim fear being hurt)
  • illegal storage of a gun when you know that a child under age 14 is like to get it (minimum $1,000 fine), and
  • disorderly conduct.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-1, 5/24-9, 5/26-1; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-65 (2020).)

When Misdemeanors Become Felonies in Illinois

Some crimes that usually are treated as misdemeanors become felonies under certain circumstances, including:

  • when the defendant had a previous conviction for the same crime (such as violating an anti-stalking no-contact order), or
  • if the crime was committed in a certain place (such as theft of $500 or less at a place of worship or a school).

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3.9, 5/16-1 (2020).)

Statutes of Limitations

A criminal statute of limitations is a time limit for bringing criminal charges. In Illinois, prosecutors may not file misdemeanor charges after 18 months from the date of the alleged crime.

Getting Legal Help

Even though misdemeanors are less serious than felonies, a misdemeanor conviction can still have negative consequences. For instance, any time in jail could potentially lead to loss of your job or even your housing. If you're facing any criminal charges, you should contact an Illinois criminal defense attorney who can protect your rights throughout the proceedings and help you obtain the most favorable outcome possible under the circumstances.

Look Out for Legal Changes

Illinois could change its laws at any time. You can find the current version of any statute mentioned in this article with this search tool. Be aware, however, that court opinions affect how these laws are interpreted and applied. That's another good reason to consult a lawyer if you're concerned about actual or potential criminal charges.

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