Prison or Probation in 2017?

 Posted on April 04, 2017 in Criminal Defense

Illinois federal crimes attorney, Illinois criminal attorney, Illinois defense lawyer,Effective January 1, 2017, judges in Illinois now must explain, on the record, why they handed down a prison sentence for a crime that also carries a punishment of probation when imposing sentences on two classifications of felonies. This change in Illinois law now forces judges to clarify reasons when they could previously have been silent. It also makes judges explain why none of the mitigating factors swayed he or she from imposing a prison sentence instead of a less restrictive sentence.

The requirement of this new explanation at sentencing was aimed at encouraging judges across Illinois to become less reliant on imprisonment and more reliant on diversionary programs that may be more suitable for nonviolent offenders. Illinois law allows a judge’s discretion when imposing criminal sentences for various crimes. A judge may consider a wide array of factors when imposing a sentence, such as:

  • Financial impact of a term of incarceration;
  • Family history;
  • History of substance abuse;
  • Military service;
  • Acceptance of responsibility; and
  • History of sexual or physical abuse.

These factors are often referred to as mitigating circumstances. Sentencing guidelines have come under scrutiny in the U.S. with overcrowding prisons and a criminal justice system struggling under the weight of the caseload it must manage. However, efforts have been made to alleviate that burden.

Who Does This Law Affect?

The law changes the way a judge imposes sentencing on defendants with no prior sentence of probation or conditional discharge as well as not having a prior conviction for a violent crime. The change was in inspired by Illinois lawmakers reasoning that many nonviolent offenders who are convicted of Class 3 and 4 felonies may benefit from a drug program or specialized kind of educational class instead of being imprisoned.

This law also creates an additional report by the Illinois Sentencing Policy Council. This council is mandated to review sentencing policies in Illinois. The Council analyzes how various sentencing policies affect the Illinois criminal justice system. The change to current Illinois law creates a report to better assist the state’s understanding of the composition of prison and probation populations.

Your Case Is Our Case

For over two decades, attorney Hal. M. Garfinkel has gained notoriety handling high-profile criminal cases. The staff at the Law Offices of Hal M. Garfinkel LLC, Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney has the knowledge and tenacity to defend your case whether you are facing a felony or misdemeanor. Call our skilled Chicago criminal defense attorney at 312-629-0669, 24 hours a day, and schedule your free consultation.


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