Chicago Homicide Defense Attorney
Help for Murder or Manslaughter Charges: Call (888) 412-3741
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
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.
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!