Homicide and Murder in Illinois
Under Illinois law, a person is guilty of criminal homicide if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being. Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter or reckless homicide. All are felonies.
What is murder?
Illinois law defines murder as the unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice aforethought, either express or implied. Malice aforethought is a predetermination to commit an act without legal justification or excuse. In other words, the defendant meant to commit the act and there was no justification or excuse, such as self-defense (see below).
In Illinois, 1st degree murder is the act of killing someone with the intent to kill or cause great bodily harm or knowing that the act will cause death or great bodily harm. Also included in 1st degree murder is if someone is killed during the commission of a forcible felony. So, if in the course of a sexual assault, someone is killed, that could rise to the level of 1st degree murder in Illinois.
2nd degree murder or voluntary manslaughter is where the defendant had the unreasonable belief that the murder was justified or the defendant acted with intense and sudden passion after being provoked.
What is involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide?
According to Illinois law, if a person unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification, he commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts are likely to cause death or great bodily harm, and he performs them recklessly.
But, in cases in which the death was caused by the driving of a motor vehicle, then the person commits reckless homicide. So, a DUI related death would result in a reckless homicide charge.
What are defenses to homicide?
Homicide is not considered a crime in specific situations, such as self- defense. If you use force against another person because you fear for your own personal safety or someone else’s personal safety, it may be considered self-defense. You must reasonably believe that the use of force is needed to defend yourself or another person.
Whether guilty or innocent or not sure, of the police want to talk to you about a crime, especially one as serious as killing another person, the best advice you can get is to say nothing. Trying to explain away what happened or offer your story is just providing evidence that could be used against you if you are charged or may give enough evidence to lead to your arrest. There is nothing they need to know now that can’t wait until you have an experienced Illinois murder defense attorney by your side. If you have already given a statement then stop talking.
If you are charged with murder in Illinois whether in the Chicago area, Central Illinois or anywhere else in Illinois, it is important that you have an experienced criminal defense lawyer to help defend you and advise you of your rights. There are only a select few attorneys in Illinois that have any real experience dealing with a murder case. You don’t want the lawyer you work with to be involved in his first murder case with you.
If you would like a referral to an Illinois criminal defense lawyer who is experienced in defending murder charges or have general questions, please call us at (312) 346-5320 or (800) 517-1614 or fill out our contact us form and we will contact you. All inquiries are free and confidential. We can’t promise a result, but we do guarantee that we will suggest a lawyer that we have great faith in and has demonstrated a track record of success.