Being accused of committing a crime is something to be taken seriously. However, when the crime carries felony criminal charges in Illinois, the accused should talk to a criminal defense attorney about those charges to avoid a permanent criminal record. Felonies are the most severe types of crime in Illinois and carry the most serious criminal penalties. A conviction for a single felony-level crime comes with a minimum of one year in jail.
The DuPage County/Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland provide dedicated and aggressive legal representation. Dolci & Weiland lawyers are former prosecutors and their combined experience of over 50 years trying criminal cases is critical in handling your case.
Illinois Felony Charges are Severe
Different crimes come with different penalties. Felony crimes generally have the harshest penalties, with up to $25,000 in fines and a minimum of one-year imprisonment. Some of the more serious felonies can come with prison sentences of up to 30 years or more.
However, even after someone serves a criminal sentence, they may still face lifelong difficulties because of a criminal conviction. Once you have a felony conviction on your criminal record, you could find yourself subjected to collateral consequences, as well. These are punishments that come from simply having a criminal past. Some of these collateral consequences include:
- Ineligibility for government benefits. Many types of government assistance, from Section 8 housing subsidies and food stamps to federal student loans, are not available to people who have been convicted of certain kinds of crimes.
- Housing discrimination. Many landlords would much rather rent apartments to people who have clean criminal histories. Choice apartments that will receive numerous applications may be difficult to access for people with a past felony conviction. Some landlords may not even consider a tenant with a criminal background.
- Difficulty finding a job. Many job applications include a box that asks whether you have been convicted for a crime in the past. Checking the box and admitting to a past conviction can doom your application, especially when the market is competitive. Not checking the box and lying about your criminal history can be even worse. Even if you get the job, a simple background check may reveal the criminal past.
- Job ineligibility. Some jobs and vocations as a whole are not available to people who have a criminal background, especially if the prior conviction was for a felony. State and federal laws prevent convicted felons from gaining employment in certain professions, making it even more difficult to overcome the adversity of a criminal conviction.
- Gun ownership. Convicted felons are generally prohibited from owning or possessing a firearm. A felon in possession of a gun could face criminal charges in Illinois.
Classes of Illinois Felonies
Even among felonies, there are some offenses that are considered more severe than others. Illinois divides felony crimes into five categories: Class 1 through 4 felonies, and Class X felonies. Class X felonies are the most severe, and convictions for these types of crimes are especially costly. Class 4 felonies are considered to be the least severe type of crimes among felonies. Nevertheless, convictions for even these types of crimes are still extremely difficult to manage and can carry mandatory minimum penalties.
Class X felonies are the most severe crimes in the state of Illinois. Class X felonies typically involve high-degrees of violence, and nearly always require intentional conduct. Non-violent crimes that fall within the Class X category, like white collar crimes, almost always involve staggeringly high dollar or drug amounts.
Examples of Class X felonies in Illinois include:
- Armed robbery
- Drug manufacturing
- High quantities of drug trafficking
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated kidnapping
Convictions for Class X felonies can come with steep fines and up to 30 years imprisonment, with a minimum of 6 years in prison.
Class 1 felonies are the second most serious type of crime in Illinois after a Class X felony. Like Class X felonies, Class 1 crimes often involve violence of some sort or extremely high amounts of theft. Examples include:
- Second-degree murder
- Sexual assault
- Aggravated possession of a firearm
- Theft of up to $100,000
Class 1 felony convictions also carry steep fines, as well as between a minimum of 4 years in prison, up to a maximum of 15 years behind bars.
Class 2 felonies are the third most serious classification of crime in Illinois, with mandatory prison time and fines of up to $25,000. Class 2 felony crimes in Illinois may include:
- Possession of a stolen firearm
- Theft of over $500
- Drug possession over certain quantities
A conviction for a Class 2 felony in Illinois comes with a prison sentence of between 3 and 7 years, in addition to fines and other penalties.
Even Class 3 felonies are significant criminal charges and come with severe repercussions if they turn into a conviction. Examples of Class 3 felonies in Illinois include:
- Aggravated battery
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Fraudulently obtaining state benefits of more than $300
- Theft of less than $500
- Sexual misconduct with a disabled person
Convictions for a Class 3 felony come with steep fines and a prison sentence of between 2 and 5 years behind bars.
Finally, Class 4 felonies are the least severe type of felony that can be committed in Illinois. However, even a Class 4 felony includes mandatory minimum sentencing and a felony criminal record. Examples include:
- Filing a false police report
- Sexual abuse
- Offering a bribe to a public servant
- Tampering with public records
Convictions for Class 4 felonies still carry prison terms of at least one year, as well as steep fines.
Contact Illinois/DuPage County Criminal Defense Attorneys at Dolci & Weiland
The dedicated criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland have over 50 years of combined experience representing clients on felony charges throughout Chicago, northern Illinois, and DuPage County. We offer the targeted, strategic legal defense you need, tailored to the circumstances of your individual case. With our experienced representation, you can rest assured that the best defense is being raised against these serious criminal allegations and that your legal rights and interests are being protected at every turn.