Almost everyone understands that murder is one of the most serious criminal offense under the law. However, many people do not completely understand the differences between the types of murder charges and when each charge may apply. The following is a brief overview of different murder charges under Illinois law.
Under the law, a person may be convicted of involuntary manslaughter if the evidence shows that they unintentionally caused the death of another person due to reckless behavior that was likely to cause great bodily harm or death. This charge is a Class 3 felony, which means anyone convicted could face probation or two to five years in Illinois state prison.
Second Degree Murder
This offense is also often referred to as a “crime of passion.” Under Illinois state law, second degree murder occurs when an individual had no previous intentions of killing anyone, but was suddenly provoked into such a state of emotional passion that they acted and killed without consideration for their actions. A common scenario is when a person finds their spouse in bed with another person and reacts violently. Second degree murder may also be charged if the individual believed they were justified in killing the other person (i.e. they were acting in self-defense), but the killer was mistaken in believing their act would be lawfully justified. Second degree murder is Class 1 felony, which means you could spend four to 20 years in Illinois state prison.
First Degree Murder
First degree murder is the most serious criminal charge in Illinois. In fact, it is not even classified in the regular classes of felony charges, but instead exists in a class of its own.
A person commits first degree murder when they kill another person without any justification and any of the following circumstances exists:
- The offender intended to kill or commit great bodily harm;
- The offender had knowledge that his or her act would have a high probability of causing death or great bodily harm; or
- The killing occurred while the offender was committing another felony (also known as Felony Murder).
First degree murder convictions may carry a sentence of 20-60 years in Illinois state prison. Additionally, if any aggravating factors exist, an offender may be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. Aggravating factors may include the age or identity of the victim, previous murder convictions, having a preconceived plan for the murder, committing the act in a calculating and cold manner, and much more.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you are facing any type of murder or manslaughter charge, you are facing potentially life-changing consequences. Investigation and preparation in a murder case can be very complex, so you always want to hire a criminal defense attorney who has experience with this type of case. Steven Goldman is a highly accomplished attorney who will provide high quality of representation for even the most serious of cases. No matter what type of charge you are facing, contact Goldman & Associates for help today.