Summary of Sentencing Guidelines for Misdemeanor Offenses in Illinois

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If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor crime in Illinois, he or she should be aware of the potential penalties that he or she may be facing. The sentencing guidelines describe the maximum penalties that may be imposed by the court. The actual sentence that is received depends on a number of factors, including the type of crime and which class of misdemeanor is charged.

Maximum Jail Time

The maximum jail time that can be imposed for a misdemeanor offense depends on the class of misdemeanor. A Class C misdemeanor is considered the least serious and can result in only up to 30 days in jail. A Class B is the next level of offense and carries a maximum jail sentence of 180 days. The most serious misdemeanor offense is a Class A misdemeanor which can result in jail time up to 364 days. Felony offenses are reserved for jail sentences of a year or more.

County Jail

Misdemeanor convictions are carried out in county jail. Felony offenders must serve their time in the state penitentiary system. County jails are used to house defendant who are awaiting trial or who are currently in jail for a sentence for misdemeanor offenses. In some situations, a person who is sentenced for a felony may be able to serve work release in county jails. This type of sentence is served in conjunction with probation.

Defendants who receive a jail sentence receive a credit which reduces a jail sentence by 50 percent of what the jail sentence order states. However, some misdemeanor offenses do not qualify for this credit. Some misdemeanor offenses have mandatory minimum penalties that must be fully served and cannot receive this type of credit.

If a criminal defendant served time in jail before he or she pled or was found guilty, he or she can receive credit for the time that he or she served in custody. The jail sentence is reduced by the amount of time served in jail before the trial occurred.


In addition to jail time, a criminal defendant who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense may have fines imposed on him or her. For example, a Class A misdemeanor offense carries with it a maximum fine up to $2,500.


Illinois law permits criminal defendants who are charged with misdemeanor crimes to potentially receive supervision instead of jail time. When a defendant receives supervision as his or her punishment, the judge is not able to sentence the defendant to jail. Jail time can only arise when a person is convicted. Receiving supervision is not equivalent to a conviction. Supervision can allow a person to escape the misdemeanor without a criminal history.

Conditional Discharge and Probation

In addition to jail time and supervision, another sentencing option for a misdemeanor conviction is that of conditional discharge or probation. Conditional discharge results in the defendantís conviction. However, the defendant does not have to see a probation officer during the period of probation. If probation is given, the defendant is required to report to a probation officer. Probation also results in the defendantís conviction.

Straight Time

The court also has the authority to give a sentence of straight time, which is a jail sentence that is not subsequently followed by a sentence of probation. Under these circumstances, the defendant is given jail time. The defendant receives a conviction. The case is closed on the last day of the jail sentence. If a defendant receives this type of sentence, he or she does not have to see a probation officer after the term is discharged. This type of sentence is most common in Cook County where there is a larger log of criminal defendants. Other counties are more likely to sentence a criminal defendant to jail and then follow this by a period of probation.

Combination of Sentencing Arrangements

The judge has the authority to sentence a defendant to a combination of punishments. This includes receiving jail time as well as conditional discharge. However, the judge cannot sentence a defendant for more than 2 years and 180 days of combined conditional discharge or probation and jail time. In these situations, the court does not have the authority to sentence a criminal defendant to excess of six months in jail if he or she is also sentenced to two years of these combined punishments. The maximum amount of time that a judge can order for supervision, conditional discharge or probation is two years.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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