Chicago Felony Attorney — Illinois Felony Penalties
Being convicted of a felony can turn your life upside down. Not only will you face the prospect of a long prison sentence and crippling fines, you will also have severely limited life opportunities once you’ve served your sentence. If you’ve been charged with a felony, you owe it to yourself and to your family to take every step possible towards avoiding a conviction.
Attorney Michael O’Meara is a former prosecutor and Chicago felony attorney with over two decades of legal experience. Set yourself on course towards the positive resolution of your criminal case and call a veteran criminal defense attorney with O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706 for your free and confidential consultation.
What’s the Difference Between a Felony and a Misdemeanor?
In the United States, criminal offenses are typically divided into two categories: misdemeanors and felonies. This distinction has its roots in the common law that our country inherited from England. Felonies are the more serious categories of crimes, covering conduct that the authorities view as particularly damaging to society. Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/2-7 defines a felony as any crime involving a sentence of one or more years in state penitentiary. This includes offenses such as:
- Aggravated assault
- Armed robbery
- Drug trafficking
- Grand theft auto
By contrast, misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and include less serious offenses such as simple assault, public indecency, drunk driving, and petty theft. A misdemeanor often doesn’t involve any jail time at all, with the detention portion of the sentence is often replaced by community service, parole, fines, or the restitution of the victims.
What Are the Consequences of a Felony Conviction?
If you get convicted of a felony, you will receive a prison sentence and/or fines of up to $25,000 that will depend on the seriousness of the offense. Illinois felonies are divided into several categories based on the penalty range they entail:
- Murder – Imprisonment for any term of years up to life
- Class X felonies – Six to 30 years in prison
- Class 1 felonies – Four to 15 years in prison
- Class 2 felonies – Three to seven years in prison
- Class 3 felonies – Two to five years in prison
- Class 4 felonies – One to three years in prison
The judge may tack extra years onto your prison sentence when there is evidence of aggravating factors in your case. In such cases, you may see the maximum possible prison term double. Aggravating factors that may result in an extended prison sentence include:
- Your prior criminal convictions
- Evidence that the motivation for your crime was based on the victim’s age, gender, race, nationality, sexual orientation, or disability
- The victim was a vulnerable person such as a child, a pregnant woman, or a senior over the age of 60
- The presence or use of a weapon during the commission of the crime
In addition to the criminal penalties listed above, your felony conviction will result in many collateral consequences, which may include:
- Inability to find a job because of the felony visible on your permanent criminal record
- Trouble getting accepted into college because of your conviction
- Inability to qualify for student financial aid if your felony was drug related
- Ineligibility for subsidized housing or welfare programs
- Ineligibility for certain professional licenses
- Restricted voting rights
- Revoked right to bear arms
- Deportation if you’re an immigrant
How Can O’Meara Law LLC Help?
In felony cases, swift action and the relentless defense of your rights at every stage of the criminal justice process are the keys to obtaining a good case outcome. We will fight for your rights from your arraignment to your sentencing hearing – assuming your case goes that far. Most criminal cases are disposed of before the trial when your lawyer’s tenacity and negotiating skills can make a big difference. Every case is unique, and that each one requires an individual and in-depth assessment.
If you’ve been charged with a crime and want to talk to a Chicago felony attorney, call O’Meara Law LLC today at 312-909-0706 and we’ll give you a confidential consultation free of charge.