Misdemeanor criminal charges are any crimes that could land a defendant in jail for up to one year. Felonies, however, are much more serious. If convicted of a felony, the Illinois court system could sentence you to more than one year in prison. When charging someone with a felony, the state uses a clear system for classifying the severity of the offense.
The classes of felonies in our state
Illinois has six broad categories, also called classes, for felonies. They include:
- Class 4
The least-severe class is Class 4. Some common offenses include domestic battery and theft; a conviction could result in one to three years in prison.
- Class 3
The sentence for a Class 3 felony could run two to five years in prison and some examples include aggravated battery or theft valuing more than $500.
- Class 2
Some commonplace felonies at this level include aggravated domestic battery, burglary and weapons offenses. They can receive punishments of three to seven years of incarceration.
- Class 1
Class 1 felonies include crimes such as second-degree homicide, criminal sexual assault and aggravated robbery, and they receive sentences of four to 15 years in prison.
- Class X
The most serious felonies fall into Class X. They include drug conspiracy, aggravated sexual assault and homicide, among others. Convictions for a Class X felony usually result in a sentence of six to 30 years.
- First-degree homicide, or Class M
First-degree murder charges are sometimes referred to as Class M. If convicted, defendants face 20 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Fortunately, many people charged with a felony have the opportunity to work with the District Attorney’s Office to negotiate the charge down to a lower class of felony or a misdemeanor. In some cases, it is possible to get a charge dropped completely. Other circumstances, however, necessitate a trial to seek an acquittal.