The Different Types of Criminal Charges in Illinois and Their Penalties

Whether you’re innocent or guilty, the criminal justice system can be confusing and overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to know the different types of criminal charges and the potential penalties you could face if convicted.

Felony Charges

A felony charge is the most serious type of crime in Illinois and carries the harshest penalties. Felony convictions can result in prison sentences of more than one year and/or significant fines. Examples of common felonies in Illinois include murder, sexual assault, and drug trafficking.

Related: What should you do if police stop and frisk you?

Misdemeanor Charges

Misdemeanor charges are less serious than felonies but still carry significant penalties. Misdemeanors can result in jail time of less than one year and/or fines. Examples of misdemeanors in Illinois include disorderly conduct, petty theft, and simple assault.

Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses are considered criminal charges and can result in fines, license suspensions, and even jail time in some cases. Examples of traffic offenses in Illinois include DUI, reckless driving, and driving with a suspended license.


Infractions are the least serious type of criminal charge in Illinois and typically result in fines, rather than jail time. Examples of infractions in Illinois include speeding, running a red light, and littering.

Related: What is attorney-client privilege, and why does it matter?

Penalties for Criminal Charges in Illinois

The penalties for criminal charges in Illinois vary based on the type and severity of the crime, as well as the defendant’s criminal history. In general, felonies carry the harshest penalties, including lengthy prison sentences and substantial fines. Misdemeanors and traffic offenses can also result in jail time and fines, but to a lesser extent than felonies. Infractions typically result in fines but not jail time.

It’s important to keep in mind that these are just general guidelines and the penalties for specific crimes can vary widely. If you’ve been charged with a crime in Illinois, it’s in your best interest to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can give you more specific information about the potential penalties you could face.

Related: What happens if you get a DUI in Illinois when you’re under 21?

Choosing the Right Criminal Defense Lawyer

Your choice of criminal defense lawyer can make all the difference in your case. A good criminal defense lawyer can help you navigate the criminal justice system, protect your rights, and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

When choosing a criminal defense lawyer, consider the following:

  • Experience: Look for a lawyer who has experience handling cases similar to yours.
  • Reputation: Check online reviews and ask for references from past clients.
  • Communication: Make sure the lawyer you choose is responsive and easy to communicate with.
  • Availability: Make sure the lawyer you choose is available to take your case and will give your case the time and attention it deserves.

Don’t be afraid to ask potential criminal defense lawyers about their experience, reputation, communication style, and availability. You want to make sure you’re hiring the right lawyer for your case.

The criminal justice system can be confusing and overwhelming, but it’s important to understand the different types of criminal charges and the potential penalties you could face if convicted. By choosing the right criminal defense lawyer, you can protect your rights and fight for the best possible outcome in your case.

Do You Need to Talk to an Attorney?

If you’ve been accused of a crime, we may be able to help you – and don’t worry: It’s completely confidential. Call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below to schedule your free, private consultation with an experienced and skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney now.

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