Sentencing Options in Chicago


Sentencing Guidelines in Illinois

A sentence is a disposition imposed on the defendant such as court supervision, probation, conditional discharge, jail, or prison. Once a defendant is found guilty, a sentencing hearing is held. At the sentencing hearing, several options are available to the judge. Convicted felons are required to submit a DNA sample. An individual convicted of a felony must be sentenced to conditional discharge, probation, or prison. More than one sentencing option can be imposed in a single sentence. For example, an individual may be ordered to serve a term of probation with a condition of incarceration in the county jail or substance abuse treatment.

Sentencing Options in  Chicago

Court supervision

Court supervision in misdemeanor cases either after a plea or after a trial, suspends the judgment in the case for a specific period of time. If the offender complies with all conditions set by the court, the offender will be released without a conviction. This is considered a diversion program because it allows an offender to avoid a conviction on his or her record. If the individual does not successfully complete the conditions of supervision, the case will proceed to sentencing and the conviction will remain on the individual’s record. However, an individual who has been found guilty of or pleads guilty to a felony offense is ineligible for court supervision. 


Probation is a sentence in which an offender is monitored by a probation officer for a specific period of time. Probation is the most common disposition for felony offenders. Individuals on probation remain in the community with court-ordered conditions. Their compliance with these conditions is monitored by probation officers. The period of probation for a misdemeanor may not be longer than two years. The length of probation for a Class 3 or 4 felony cannot exceed 30 months. The length of probation for a Class 1 or 2 felony cannot exceed four years. A person who pleads guilty to, or is found guilty of, a Class X felony is not eligible for probation.

Typical conditions of probation in Illinois include, but are not limited to:

  • Reporting to and appearing in person before a probation officer on a regular basis 
  • Paying a fine and court costs 
  • Undergoing medical, psychological or psychiatric treatment 
  • Undergoing treatment for drug addiction or alcoholism 
  • Refraining from possessing a firearm or other dangerous weapon 
  • Paying restitution to the victim 
  • Performing community service 
  • Remaining in the state of Illinois 
  • Refraining from contact with certain specified persons 
  • Refraining from using illicit drugs
  • First offender drug probation
  • Illinois has two types of probation for drug offenders. Offenders convicted of certain cannabis possession offenses may be eligible for a type of first offender probation, referred to as “710 probation”. Some offenders charged with certain controlled substance possession offenses may be eligible for a type of first offender probation referred to as “410” or “1410 probation”. Unlike other probation offenses, these convictions may be eligible for expungement.
  • Intensive probation supervision
  • Intensive probation supervision (IPS) allows for the conditional release of a convicted offender under strict probation guidelines. A sentence of IPS may be ordered for the first year of a multi- year probation sentence. In addition, IPS may be used if an offender receives probation for a more serious offense, or if the offender has multiple convictions. Under IPS, the offender meets more frequently with a probation officer and has stricter conditions than those set in standard probation cases, such as curfews, electronic monitoring, and more frequent drug testing.
  • Conditional discharge
  • Conditional discharge orders an offender to comply with specific court mandates for a specific period of time, usually without the supervision of a probation officer as in regular probation. However, similar conditions to probation can be ordered in a sentence of conditional discharge. Conditional discharge is not a diversion program. Unlike court supervision, a person sentenced to conditional discharge is convicted of the crime even if he or she successfully completes the terms of his or her conditional discharge.

Home confinement

Home confinement is typically used prior to trial in conjunction with electronic monitoring. However, offenders may be sentenced to home confinement, which requires that they remain in their own residence, with the exception of approved leave. Home confinement is monitored by probation officers who use a variety of methods to confirm offenders are in their designated places. Home confinement also may be ordered when a defendant is awaiting a violation of probation or probation revocation hearing.

Electronic monitoring

Electronic monitoring devices verify that offenders are at specified locations. The devices, used most commonly conjunction with home confinement, assist probation officers in ensuring offenders are at approved locations (usually school, work, or home) during specified times.


Offenders may be sentenced to attend treatment programs or counseling for drug and alcohol abuse, sex offenders, anger management, or for mental health problems. Treatment sentences may include stays in a residential facility. Sentences of treatment are often conditions of probation or conditional release. It is uncommon for a defendant to be sentenced solely to treatment with no other conditions.

Periodic imprisonment

Periodic imprisonment requires an offender to report to a county jail or state correctional facility daily for a specific period of time [730 ILCS 5/5-7-1]. This allows the offender to remain in school or employed while serving a sentence of incarceration.


Offenders may be sentenced to incarceration in a jail for less than one year for misdemeanor offenses or as a condition of a probation sentence in either a misdemeanor or felony case. In general, jails are operated by the county sheriff’s department.

The following are guidelines for misdemeanor sentencing:

  • Class A misdemeanor—less than 1 year in jail [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55] 
  • Class B misdemeanor—up to 6 months in jail [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-60] 
  • Class C misdemeanor—up to 30 days in jail [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-65] 
  • Petty offenses and business offense—no jail [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-75 & 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5- 80] 


Offenders sentenced to one year of incarceration or more are sent to a state correctional facility or prison. As of July 2012, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) operates 22 correctional facilities. The security levels of the prisons range from minimum to maximum. Three of the prisons house only women.

The following are general sentencing guidelines of felons to prison both as to length of sentence and length of Mandatory Supervised Release (MSR, which replaced parole):

  • First degree murder—20 to 60 years imprisonment, 3 years mandatory supervised release (MSR). Special circumstances allow for additional time on the sentence (e.g., 100 years, natural life) [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-20] 
  • Class X felonies—6 to 30 years imprisonment, 3 years MSR. The minimum or maximum possible sentence is greater for certain Class X offenses [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-25] 
  • Class 1 felonies—4 to 15 years imprisonment, 2 years MSR [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-30] 
  • Class 2 felonies—3 to 7 years imprisonment, 2 years MSR [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-35] 
  • Class 3 felonies—2 to 5 years imprisonment, 1 year MSR [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-40] 
  • Class 4 felonies—1 to 3 years imprisonment, 1 year MSR [730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45]
  • Specific circumstances extend the maximum amount of time that a judge could sentence an offender to IDOC [730 ILCS 5/5-8-2]. This is called an extended term sentence.
  • Impact incarceration
  • Impact incarceration programs (IIP) are also referred to as boot camps. Jurisdictions in Illinois use boot camp programs as diversion options most commonly for juvenile offenders. However, the Illinois Department of Corrections (IDOC) operates three IIPs for non-violent offenders who meet certain criteria [730 ILCS 5/5-8-1.1]. A judge may sentence an individual to IDOC and recommend they attend an IIP, or IDOC may identify potential candidates during the inmate intake. IIP lasts 120 days and incorporates military activities, physical exercise, labor-intensive work, and substance abuse treatment. Inmates who successfully complete IIP may have their sentence reduced to time served and may be placed on community supervision (or mandatory supervised release). If an inmate fails IIP, the original sentence is reinstated.
  • Death penalty/Capital punishment
  • On March 9, 2011, Governor Quinn signed into law Public Act 096-1543, abolishing the death penalty in Illinois, effective July 1, 2011. Death sentences of all individuals were commuted to life without parole.
  • Fines
  • An offender may be ordered to pay certain court costs, fees, and fines [730 ILCS 5/5-9-1]. Fines may include a crime lab fee, domestic violence fine, sexual assault fine, child pornography fine, DUI analysis fee, arson fine, and sex offender fine. These fees and fines are defined by statute. 

The maximum fine for a felony offense is $25,000 unless otherwise specified by law. The maximum fine for a Class A misdemeanor is $2,500 and $1,500 for a Class B or C misdemeanor.

Call Chicago Criminal Appeals Lawyer today!


    Have a question about a criminal appeal, or want to discuss an appellate case?

    Jaleel Law P.C.

    1600 Golf Rd
    Suite 1200
    Rolling meadows 60008