Crimes are classified both by the type and the severity of the offense. Felonies are considered more serious than misdemeanors, and in Illinois they typically carry a minimum of one year of incarceration. Even amongst felonies, though, there are degrees of seriousness.
Our state has five classes of felonies – Class 4, Class 3, Class 2, Class 1, and Class X. Among these, Class X felonies are the most serious recognized in Illinois with exception to first-degree murder. If convicted of a Class X felony, you are not eligible for probation, and could face a prison term of up to 60 years.
Below, we’re going to break down the five classes of Illinois felonies, focusing on Class X felonies and the consequences you could face if convicted of a crime in this category.
If you are facing one of these severe charges, your best chance at a positive outcome is to consult with a knowledgeable Chicago criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Five Classes of Felonies in Illinois
In Illinois, there are five classes of felonies, in addition to first-degree murder:
- Class 4: Class 4 felonies are the least-severe, and are punishable by 1-3 years of incarceration, with the possibility of an additional 3-6 years. Class 4 felonies include aggravated assault, unlawful possession of a firearm, domestic battery, stalking, and dog fighting.
- Class 3: Class 3 felonies are punishable by 2-5 years of incarceration, with a potential extended term of 5-10 years. Common examples of Class 3 felonies include aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter, perjury, incest, and aggravated stalking.
- Class 2: A class 2 felony carries a prison sentence of 3-7 years, with a potential extended term of 7-14 years. Common examples of Class 2 felonies are some forms of arson, bribery, aggravated criminal sexual abuse, burglary, and kidnapping.
- Class 1: A Class 1 felony has a prison sentence of 4-15 years, with a possible extended sentence of 15-30 years. Common Class 1 felonies include residential discharge of a firearm, criminal sexual assault, residential burglary and vehicular hijacking.
- Class X: This is the most severe class of felony, short of first-degree murder. A Class X felony is punishable by 6-30 years of incarceration, with a possible extended sentence of 30-60 years. Class X felonies are generally aggravated or armed offenses. For example, aggravated arson and armed robbery.
List of Class X Felonies in Illinois
Common Class X felonies include:
- Home invasion
- DUI (sixth or subsequent conviction)
- Aggravated arson
- Aggravated battery with a firearm
- Aggravated battery of a child
- Aggravated vehicular hijacking
- Armed robbery
- Aggravated rape
- Other sex crimes such as aggravated criminal sexual assault
- Certain offenses involving possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell (usually a large amount of substance)
The Severity of Illinois Class X Felonies
You already know that Class X felonies carry a mandatory penalty of incarceration from six to 30 years, with the possibility of up to 60 years if aggravating factors are present. That’s bad enough.
What you might not realize, though, is that they also come with a mandatory supervised release period of at least three years following completion of the sentence. Moreover, if you are convicted of a Class X felony, you cannot be sentenced to probation, regardless of the crime’s circumstances.
Also, that six-year minimum sentence is mandatory even for offenders with no prior criminal record. The Department of Corrections cannot release a Class X felony offender on conditional discharge before completion of the minimum sentence.
These charges are nothing to mess around with, and they have the potential to wreck your entire life. However, charges for a Class X felony do not equate to a conviction.
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, a number of defense strategies may be available to help your case. The trick is in finding the right one for your specific situation and understanding how to effectively use it.
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.