What Happens After Being Convicted of a Felony in Illinois?

When a defendant receives a felony conviction, it is not necessarily true that you will have to spend any time in prison at all. The vast majority of felony cases handled by Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC result in no jail time. But there are however many circumstances for which certain crimes require a mandatory minimum sentence. When such an offense has such mandatory minimum sentencing, this means that regardless of the circumstances of your case, a Judge is required by law to hand down certain minimum punishments. If you are convicted of a felony in Illinois and your case is also found to have aggravating factors, the minimums and maximums for that felony class might be enhanced or extended.

There are five basic classes of felony under Illinois law:

  • The least serious is Class 4 Felony, which entails 1-3 years of imprisonment (3-6 with aggravating factors).
  • If you are convicted of a Class 3 Felony, Illinois law states you must serve 2-5 years (5-10 with aggravating factors).
  • For anyone found guilty of a Class 2 Felony, Illinois courts must sentence them to 3-7 years in prison (7-14 with aggravating factors).
  • When it comes to Class 1 Felony, Illinois law decrees imprisonment for 4-15 years (15-30 with aggravating factors).
  • The most serious is Class X Felony, punishable by 6-30 years in prison (30-60 with aggravating factors).

In addition to prison time, convicted felons may be subjected to fines, which can reach $25,000 or more.

What Happens If You Have a Felony on Your Record?

The consequences of a conviction for a felony offense may go beyond prison time and fines, although they may definitely include such punishments. After being convicted of a felony in Illinois, the felony will likely appear on your criminal record, which may affect many aspects of your life going forward.

Potential employers may be able to see your criminal record. However, House Bill 5701, later passed in 2014, decreed that they can only do so after determining that you are qualified for the position. They cannot legally ask you during an interview if you have committed any felonies.

If you have been convicted of a felony anywhere in the country, not just in Illinois, you cannot legally own, possess, or use a firearm. If you have a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card, which is required by the state in order to legally own a gun, that card can and will likely be revoked upon conviction. According to Illinois Statutes 65/10, ex-offenders can apply to the Director of State Police or their county’s court “requesting relief from such prohibitions, but they must meet certain conditions - including not having been convicted of a felony within the past 20 years.”

Your ability to receive government welfare may be affected as well if you have a felony on your record. Convicted felons cannot apply for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Federal law also dictates that students with a felony in their past can still be eligible for financial aid, but may be forced to wait a year if the felony was drug possession and two years if it was the sale of drugs. If a person was found guilty of a sex offense felony and was required to do “an involuntary civil commitment” upon release from prison, they may be denied a Federal Pell Grant.

What Happens When You Get Three Felonies?

Statutes 5/5-4.5-95, also known as “The Three Strikes Law,” comes into play if you have been “twice convicted” for a Class X felony, or for “criminal sexual assault, aggravated kidnapping, or first-degree murder,” and receive another conviction for any of these acts. The longest prison term you can be sentenced to for a Class X felony is generally 60 years with aggravating factors, but if you receive a “third strike,” you will be labeled a “habitual criminal” and may face life imprisonment.

This can also apply if you have been previously convicted for two felonies that fall under Class 1 or 2. Upon the third felony that reaches these levels or higher, you may be “sentenced as a Class X offender.”

Can Convicted Felons Vote in Illinois?

Some states take the right to vote away from felons - not just for when they serve their sentence, but for the rest of their lives. Because of this, you may be asking, “Can felons vote in Illinois?” The answer is that they cannot - at least, not while they are in prison. Upon their release, they can register again and regain their ability to vote. Illinois citizens can also vote even if they are on probation or parole. However, considering that convicted felons can spend a long time behind bars, this can mean missing the chance to participate in the democratic process for a long time.

All this can happen if you are convicted of a felony in Illinois. If you face felony charges, you will definitely want to discuss your situation with someone who has experience in legal matters before your case goes to court. The Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have decades of experience, and they are ready and willing to help you. For a free consultation, call us today at (312) 644-0444.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : July 14, 2021