What is the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor?

In Illinois, criminal offenses are divided into two basic categories, felonies and misdemeanors. Felonies carry a possible sentence of at least one year in jail and/or a fine, while misdemeanors (which are less serious but by no means "slap on the wrist" offenses) carry possible jail sentences of up to one year and possible fines as well.

While misdemeanor offenses may seem minor in comparison, a person can be charged with a felony for repeat misdemeanor offenses. In addition to those listed here, other sentences are available for misdemeanors, including court supervision, conditional discharge (non-reporting probation), and probation.

Drug crimes may be categorized as felonies or misdemeanors. The quantity of a controlled substance, type of controlled substance, intent to deliver, location of the crime, ages of the parties and past history are some of the factors that determine the severity of the crime.

Illinois has five classes of felonies that carry different penalties. First degree murder is also a felony offense and carries unique penalties. All felonies may also be punishable by a fine of up to $25,000 and the possibility of an extended prison term, depending on the circumstances of the offense(s).

Types of Felony Illinois State Prison Term
Class X Felony 6-30 years
Class 1 Felony 4-15 years
Class 2 Felony 3-7 years
Class 3 Felony 2-5 years
Class 4 Felony 1-3 years
Class A Misdemeanor Up to 1 year and/or $2,500
Class B Misdemeanor Up to 180 days and/or $1,500
Class C Misdemeanor Up to 30 days and/or $1,500

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