Murder, Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide Attorney in Springfield
Homicides, or murders, are the most serious crimes. Illinois law codifies four common homicide crimes charged for actions that result in the death of another person.
First-degree murder is defined as intentionally killing another person, or engaging in conduct, which knowingly creates a strong possibility of death or great bodily harm. First-degree murder is punishable from 20 to 60 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections served at 100% with no possibility for good-time credit.
Several years or even a sentence of natural life may be added to the sentence if certain aggravating factors are present, such as the victim being a police officer, firefighter, under the age of 12 or over the age of 60. An additional 25 years may be added if a firearm caused the death. There are many other aggravating factors related to homicide cases.
There is an additional type of first-degree murder and it is known as “felony murder,” which is when a death is caused during the commission of a forcible felony. For instance, during an armed robbery the offender’s gun is discharged and kills the victim. That is felony murder. At trial, the State does not have to prove the elements of First-Degree Murder—most notably intent; only the armed robbery and the fact of the death needs to be proven to convict under Felony Murder.
Second-degree murder is first-degree murder, but with mitigating factors present, such as acting under sudden and intense passion that was caused by the victim. An example might be a husband who finds his wife in bed with another man and kills one or both of them.
Second-Degree Murder in Self-Defense Cases
Second-degree murder is more commonly found in self-defense cases. For example, a defendant is charged with First-Degree Murder but asserts he was acting in self-defense. The trier of fact (judge or jury) at trial must decide two issues related to this defense. First, whether the defendant was actually defending himself, his home or others. And second, whether the use of self-defense reasonable. Should yes be the answer to both inquiries the defendant is found not guilty of First-Degree Murder. If, however, the trier of fact decides the defendant was defending himself, but the use of force was unreasonable, a Second-Degree Murder conviction is probable. The maximum sentence for Second-degree murder is 20 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections served at 50%.
A former client shot and killed another man at Altgeld Gardens in Chicago in the summer of 2012. The client was jumped and beaten by a much larger man who returned two hours later, wanting to fight some more. The client saw the man and went inside his home, grabbed a pistol and went back outside where he confronted his attacker and eventually shot and killed him. Surveillance video captured the entire event. The jury believed the client was acting in self-defense but did not believe the client’s use of force was reasonable. The client was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to 14 years in IDOC at 50%.
Involuntary manslaughter occurs when someone is killed but there was no intent to cause the death. An example could be picking up a firearm that accidentally discharges and kills someone. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony, but the felony class can be raised if certain aggravating facts are proven.
Reckless homicide is causing the death of another without intent while operating a motor vehicle. Reckless homicide is also a Class 3 felony but can be more serious if for instance the driver was driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Contact Attorney Marcus Schantz today!