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New Illinois Law Encourages Probation for Low-Level Offenders

Posted on in Criminal Law

New Illinois Law Encourages Probation for Low-Level Offenders2017 brings some good news for certain low-level offenders who could be facing a prison sentence. A new law effective Jan. 1, 2017 requires judges to review presentence reports and give reasons why an offender is being sentenced to jail time if the crime is a Class 3 or Class 4 felony and the offender has no prior violent convictions.

Thus, if you are convicted of a crime that could be punishable by probation or conditional discharge, and you have never been sentenced to either before, a judge must explain why a prison sentence is appropriate.

This law should have the effect of reducing the number of offenders sentenced to a prison term and increase the number of offenders receiving probation. Supporters of the law say that it will:

  • Save taxpayer money. Taxpayers spend $1.3 billion on the Department of Corrections and $131 million on the Department of Juvenile Justice each year in Illinois. One year of incarceration for one inmate costs $22,000.
  • Reduce prison overcrowding. Prison crowding can present dangerous conditions.
  • Facilitate employment for offenders. By keeping people out of prison, they can keep their jobs or become employed.
  • Keep felons from reoffending. Having a job is an important part of reducing recidivism.

The law is also a part of the state’s goal to reduce the prison population. Gov. Bruce Rauner seeks to reduce Illinois prison population by 25 percent by 2025.

This new law is likely to have a sizable impact moving forward. According to the governor, 60 percent of offenders in prison for Class 3 and Class 4 felonies had no prior violent crime convictions.

What are Class 3 and Class 4 Felonies?

Class 4 felonies are punishable by one to three years imprisonment with a fine of up to $25,000. Class 4 felony crimes include:

  • DUI committed without a valid driver’s license
  • DUI committed without liability insurance
  • Stalking
  • Weapon possession, first offense

Class 3 felonies are punishable by two to five years imprisonment with a fine of up to $25,000.

Class 3 felony crimes include:

  • Theft between $300 and $2,000
  • Forgery
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Stalking, second offense

Contact a Wheaton, IL Criminal Law Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime, you should seek legal representation. A qualified criminal defense attorney will be up to date on all the law affecting your case. If your case is impacted by this new law, a skilled lawyer will see to it that the judge follows these requirements and will appeal your case if needed.

The DuPage County criminal defense lawyer at our firm can be your advocate and protect your rights throughout your criminal proceedings.

Call 630-871-1700 for an initial consultation today.

Sources:

https://www.illinoispolicy.org/rauner-signs-bill-to-discourage-incarceration-for-low-level-offenders-with-no-prior-violent-convictions/

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=099-0861

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