What’s the Difference Between a Misdemeanor and a Felony in Illinois?

If you’re like many people facing criminal charges – especially if you’ve never been involved in the criminal justice system before – you’re not sure about all the terminology, like misdemeanor and felony. This guide explains the differences between the two.

Generally, misdemeanors are less-serious crimes than felonies are. Felonies are the most serious crimes, and often, convictions result in prison sentences.

Both misdemeanors and felonies are categorized by classes. 

Misdemeanors can be Class C, Class B and Class A, with Class C being the least serious and Class A being the most serious. Felonies in Illinois are mostly classified by numbers, with Class 4 being the least serious and Class 1 being the most serious; there’s another category, though – the Class X felony, which is the most serious of all felonies. The following table outlines possible penalties for misdemeanors and felonies in Illinois. 

Criminal Classification Examples Possible Penalties
Class C misdemeanor Disorderly conduct, simple assault Up to 30 days in a county jail and fines of up to $1,500
Class B misdemeanor Trespassing, aggravated speeding Up to 6 months in a county jail and fines of up to $1,500
Class A misdemeanor Prostitution, soliciting a prostitute, domestic battery Up to a year in a county jail and fines of up to $2,500
Class 4 felony Looting, filing a false police report, stalking 1 to 3 years in prison
Class 3 felony Aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter, fraudulently obtaining state benefits of more than $300 2 to 5 years in prison
Class 2 felony Robbery, possession of a stolen firearm, arson 3 to 7 years in prison
Class 1 felony Burglary, second-degree murder, sexual assault 4 to 15 years in prison
Class X felony Murder, armed robbery, aggravated arson 6 to 30 years in prison

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