What Classifies a Crime as “Violent” in Illinois?
When someone mentions the word “crime”, most people’s minds automatically jump to violent crime.
That goes to show that you don’t need intimate knowledge of the law to understand how violent crimes are serious offenses. Statistics back up the notion that violent crimes are the most serious in society.
CBS Chicago recently reported that, in one weekend, five people were killed and 22 wounded across the city. The youngest victim was just 14 years old. These killings were all linked to shootings. Under Illinois law, they all counted as violent crimes.
What is a violent crime? How is it different from other types of crime, and how is it punished? Read on to find out more.
Violent Crime in Illinois
In Illinois, certain crimes are considered so heinous that they have a category all their own: violent crimes.
These crimes carry the harshest penalties in the criminal justice system. Many have serious minimum mandatory sentences.
Crimes that are considered violent involve the threat of harm or actual harm to someone else. Examples of these include:
- Murder – Defined as the unlawful killing of someone.
- Rape – Defined as sexual penetration of a victim:
- Under force or threat of force
- Who is unable to consent
- Who is a minor and related to the perpetrator
- Over whom the perpetrator holds a position of trust or authority.
- Arson – By means of explosives or fire, knowingly causing damage to real property, when it’s reasonably expected that people are inside the structure.
- Battery – Injuring or making offensive contact with another, involving:
- the use of a weapon
- victims of a protected class
- severe injury to the victim.
- Reckless discharge of a firearm – Acting in a manner with a firearm that the defendant knows or should have known could cause harm or injury to others.
- Robbery – The intentional seizure of another’s property using force or the threat of force.
- Kidnapping – Knowingly confining another person against their will by force or threat of force.
- Assault – Handling a weapon in such a way that another person feels threatened.
- Domestic violence – Physically abusing, harassing, intimidating, or interfering with the personal liberty of a family or household member.
The Penalties for Violent Crimes
There are two main categories of violent crimes in Illinois. They can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony.
For misdemeanors, there is a maximum jail sentence of up to 12 months.
Most violent crimes in Illinois are considered felonies. Because of this, they carry much harsher penalties, including life in prison for some.
The most serious penalties are for Class 1 felonies and Class X felonies. Kidnapping, murder, and sexual assault are examples of this level of violent crime. Their minimum sentence is four years in prison – but the maximum penalty can be life.
Sentencing depends on the circumstances surrounding the crime and the status of the victim. The defendant’s criminal history also plays a role in resulting penalties if convicted.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.