Illinois Criminal Law: An Overview

Chicago is the third-most populous city in the U.S., but has higher violent crime rates than New York City, the most populous city in the U.S. In fact, Chicago, East St. Louis, and Rockford all rank in the top 25 most dangerous cities in the U.S. Despite the statistics, both Chicago and Illinois violent crime rates have been in a steady decline according to annual reports.

One of the contributing factors to the recent decrease in violent crimes is Illinois's concealed carry laws. Concealed carry has resulted in citizen participation in law enforcement. It has also acted as a deterrent to criminal activities.

Concealed Carry in Illinois

Illinois residents are allowed to carry a loaded or unloaded concealed firearm in public for personal defense after obtaining a license for concealed carry. Anyone who meets the application requirements shall be issued a concealed carry license. Requirements include a $150 fee, a valid Firearm Owners Identification card, and a clean five-year criminal record, among other qualifications.

Since concealed carry was legalized in 2013, the new laws have had little else but a positive impact on law enforcement and gun owners' conduct.

Illinois Felonies and Misdemeanors

Illinois criminal offenses are generally categorized as felonies or misdemeanors, depending on their nature and the maximum punishment. Like every other state, Illinois can draft its own new criminal laws but state laws have to be constitutional. Many state laws around the country have been deemed unconstitutional by federal courts and the U.S. Supreme Court.

A felony in Illinois is serious criminal charge punishable by imprisonment for more than one year plus a fine of up to $25,000. Most state criminal laws divide felonies into different classes with varying degrees of punishment.

A misdemeanor is typically misconduct that the law provides punishment of one year or less in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. Misdemeanors are lesser crimes compared to felonies. Minor offenses like traffic violations and public nuisance are often called petty offenses.

Capital Punishment in Illinois

Illinois does not have the death penalty. Only 12 executions had occurred in Illinois since the death penalty was reinstated in 1973. However, in 2011, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation that abolished the death penalty in Illinois. The highest felony penalty is life without parole.

Illinois DUI Laws

In Illinois, it is illegal to drive while intoxicated with a blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) level of .08 percent or higher. However, Illinois's DUI laws don't only apply to drunk driving. Substances like prescription drugs, marijuana, and narcotics can all impair drivers, and any level of driver impairment is illegal.

Contact a Illinois Criminal Defense Attorney

Anyone facing criminal charges in Illinois has the right to mount a vigorous defense. Make sure you talk with an attorney experienced with local criminal procedures about your case and your needs before hiring one.

Not all attorneys are qualified to handle serious charges like Class X felonies. Most, if not all attorneys should be able to handle misdemeanors and petty offenses, though. A qualified Illinois criminal defense attorney could mean the difference between going to jail and going free.

The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.

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