As of January 1, Illinois judges will have to specifically justify sentencing an offender, who has never received probation or conditional discharge, to prison or periodic imprison for Class 3 or Class 4 felonies that statutorily allow for a sentence of probation or conditional discharge. Last week, Illinois’ governor signed Public Act 99-0861 into law as one of many criminal justice reforms.
Public Act 99-0861, states that the court must: “(i)n imposing a sentence of imprisonment or periodic imprisonment for a Class 3 or Class 4 felony for which a sentence of probation or conditional discharge is an available sentence, if the defendant has no prior sentence of probation or conditional discharge and no prior conviction for a violent crime, the defendant shall not be sentenced to imprisonment before review and consideration of a presentence report and determination and explanation of why the particular evidence, information, factor in aggravation, factual finding, or other reasons support a sentencing determination that … probation or conditional discharge is not an appropriate sentence.”
On a practical note, most first Class 3 or Class 4 offenders are sentenced to probation or conditional discharge but there are times, especially when a higher class felony is reduced to a Class 3 or 4, where that may not be the case. As of January 1, a presentence report is necessary, and the court must specifically put on the record why probation or conditional discharge is not appropriate.
Lori G. Levin
Attorney at Law
180 N. LaSalle Street, Suite 3700
Chicago, IL 60601