Judge looking at defendantThis is the next article in my series on defending against Class “1” felony charges in Peoria and other central Illinois areas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing. It also stressed the need to retain an attorney as soon as possible if you or a family member have been arrested. It is important that you speak with counsel sooner, rather than later, so that your representative may immediately begin building a defense on your behalf. In this article I will address the question of “what is a Class ‘1’ Illinois felony?” If you need assistance then contact my office today to speak with a criminal defense lawyer.

A Class “1” felony is one of the more serious offenses with which an Illinois resident can be charged. It is second to only Class “X” charges or allegations of first-degree murder. The sentence for a Class “1” charge is typically four to fifteen years. A defendant may receive an extended sentence of up to thirty years if aggravating factors are present. Such factors may include having been convicted of an equal or greater offense in the last ten years, the victim of the crime being a child, and more. Other penalties can include fines and being forever prohibited from possessing a firearm under both state and federal law. Defendants will typically be eligible for probation, unless they were already on probation for a previous felony.

There are other serious consequences which come from being straddled with a felony conviction. These include having a permanent criminal record which will appear on background checks. While misdemeanor convictions can sometimes be “explained away,” felonies often cannot. Not being able to pass a background check will often disqualify you from employment, from housing, and from being able to obtain a professional license. It is highly difficult, for example, to become a real estate agent, a lawyer, or an accountant with a felony conviction. Furthermore, obtaining a government security clearance, or any government employment, is unlikely after a conviction.

There are a range of offenses which fall under the Class “1” classification. These include certain drug offenses, second degree murder, sexual assault, residential burglary, aggravated robbery, carjacking, and more. Also, a defendant will often face multiple “stacked” charges. An example of this could include an individual who commits a carjacking while using a gun. If the individual is already a felon, then they will face charges for being a felon in possession of a firearm as well as the carjacking. If the individual is convicted on both counts then they run the risk of their sentences being run consecutively. While this example is for illustrative purposes only, it shows that one transaction can lead to multiple charges.

An important point to remember is that individuals have options available to them when it comes to defending the case. While how to best defend a case will always depend on the specifics of the situation, it is important to understand protections available under the legal system. If, for example, law enforcement violated your Fourth Amendment rights and that violation is what led to your arrest then it may be possible to have the charges dismissed. It may also be possible to exclude the prosecution’s use of eyewitness testimony, of statements you made to law enforcement, etc. An experienced attorney will analyze the evidence in your case and discuss the best possible strategy for your defense. It is important that you take the advice of counsel.

If you or a family member have been arrested then contact my office today to speak with a Peoria felony defense lawyer. I am a former prosecutor who is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and I recognize that this is an important time in your life. Contact us online or by telephone to schedule an appointment. We look forward to speaking with you. I also service the cities of Bloomington, Eureka, Galesburg, Morton, Normal, Pekin, Springfield, and Washington. I serve the counties of Fulton, Knox, LaSalle, Marshall, Mason, McLean, Putnam, Rock Island, Schuyler, Stark, Tazewell, and Woodford. I also handle federal cases in Urbana.