Chicago Homicide Defense Attorney

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Murder is the intentional and unlawful killing of another person. In Illinois, murder charges fall into one of two categories: 1st-degree murder under 720 ILCS 5/9-1, and 2nd-degree murder under 720 ILCS 5/9-2.

The examples below each describe 1st-degree murder:

  • The defendant intended to kill or inflict great bodily harm, or knew his or her acts would cause death; or
  • The defendant was aware that his or her actions would create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm; or
  • The defendant attempted to commit or did commit any forcible felony other than 2nd-degree murder. (This is known as "felony murder.")

In Illinois, felony murder occurs when a person is killed during the course of a forcible felony. Forcible felonies usually include burglary, arson, rape, robbery, or kidnapping. Accordingly, if anyone is killed during one of these crimes, the defendant likely will be charged with felony murder. For example, if two friends commit a robbery, and the robbery victim kills one of the two during the robbery, the surviving robber will be charged with the death of his friend.

Second-Degree Murder Charges

Depending on the circumstances, a 1st-degree murder charge may be reduced to 2nd-degree murder if certain mitigating factors are present. A charge of 2nd-degree murder may be appropriate if:

  • The defendant's actions were the result of sudden and intense passion from serious provocation; or
  • The defendant's actions were the result of an unreasonable belief that circumstances justified the killing under self-defense principles.

In Illinois, the "serious provocation" exception includes: (1) substantial physical injury or assault; (2) mutual and willing combat; (3) illegal arrest; and (4) adultery with one's spouse that is discovered as it is occurring or immediately before or after it occurred. Notably, words, no matter how inflammatory, insulting, or outrageous, are never considered serious provocation.

Manslaughter & Reckless Homicide

Manslaughter

In Illinois, voluntary manslaughter has been largely abandoned and is categorized instead under 2nd degree murder. Involuntary manslaughter, on the other hand, occurs when one unintentionally kills another. To prove involuntary manslaughter, the government generally has to prove that the defendant acted "recklessly." Acting recklessly means the defendant knew his behavior posed a substantial and unjustifiable risk, but disregarded that risk and acted anyway. An example of involuntary manslaughter would be shooting a firearm into the air in an urban area. The statute for manslaughter is 720 ILCS 5/9-3.

Reckless Homicide

When an unintentional killing is caused by a motor vehicle (whether car or boat), the defendant may be charged with “reckless homicide.” Common examples of reckless homicide include accidents that were caused by excessive speeding, intoxication, or unconsciousness due to a known medical condition. The statute for reckless homicide is 720 ILCS 5/9-3.

Mitigating and aggravating circumstances are an extremely important part of manslaughter and reckless homicide cases. Both sides agree that the death was unintentional, so the principal issue is whether the defendant knew his behavior would create a substantial and unjustifiable risk that he chose to ignore.

Contact Thomas C. Hallock if you need the representation of a skilled and committed attorney. Call (888) 412-3741 to speak with a Chicago criminal defense attorney!

HELPFUL TIPS FROM ME TO YOU

HOW TO PROPERLY EXERCISE YOUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS

What You Should Do

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Calmly record the interaction.
  • Ask if you are free to leave. If you do not ask, the officer may think—and the judge may agree—that the interaction was consensual.
  • If you are free to leave, go! If you are not free to leave, respectfully but firmly ask to speak with your lawyer.

What You Should Not Do

  • Do not physically resist arrest.
  • Do not become aggressive or confrontational.
  • Do not consent to a search. The Constitution does not apply if you consent.
  • Do not answer questions without first speaking with your attorney. Police are allowed to hold you for 48 hours and they may lie to you the entire time.

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