Sentences of Imprisonment

Summary of felony prison sentences

by Sami Azhari on April 9, 2011

Illinois law provides that a felony is any offense for which the penalty is one year of imprisonment or more. A misdemeanor, by comparison, is punishable by less than one year imprisonment.

Among the various felony offenses, the law distinguishes them in the following way:

  • Class X felony: Mandatory sentence of 6-30 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The defendant is not eligible for probation under any circumstances. It does not matter that the defendant has never been arrested or found guilty of a crime before. Even a first offense which is a Class X felony results in prison time.
  • Class 1 felony: Sentencing range of 4-15 years in the Department of Corrections. Probation is possible on a finding of guilt for a Class 1 felony. However, some Class 1 felonies are non-probationable, such as residential burglary.
  • Class 2 felony: 3-7 year prison sentence, with probation possible on almost all offenses. Very few Class 2 felonies are non-probationable. Aggravated driving under the influence resulting in death is a Class 2 felony with a sentencing range of 3-14 years. Probation is possible, but only upon a showing of exceptional circumstances.
  • Class 3 felony: Sentencing range of 2-5 years in the Department of Corrections. Probation is generally possible for all offenses in this category.
  • Class 4 felony: 1-3 years in the Department of Corrections. Class 4 felonies are non-probationable only in rare circumstances where the defendant has a prior offense.

This is a summary of prison sentencing for felony crimes in Illinois courts. You should take caution, however, that even where probation is allowed by law, it is never certain.

An outcome of probation cannot be taken for granted, because is subject to the judge’s approval. Judges presiding over felony courtrooms are usually elected. And so, when a felony offense involves a controversial issue, politics can come into play. More than one judge has been accused of making an example out of someone.

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