An Illinois homicide attorney can provide legal guidance if you are facing criminal charges. In order to be convicted of first degree murder, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed an individual without a lawful defense. There are three situations in which an individual can be convicted of first degree of murder.
- The defendant intended to kill or commit great bodily harm to victim, or knew that such act would cause great bodily harm;
- The defendant knew that the act created a strong probability or causing death or great bodily harm to the victim; or
- The defendant was attempting or committed a forcible felony other than second degree murder.
The evidence by the prosecution must be sufficient to establish criminal liability that the defendant failed to perceive a substantial and unjustifiable risk that is a gross deviation from what a reasonable person would do. If you have been charged with first degree murder, consult a Chicago attorney at Goldman & Associates for help with your case.
Defense to First Degree Murder
There are several defenses available to defend against first degree murder in Illinois.
- Self-Defense – The defendant’s conduct was provoked by the victim with the intent to cause physical injury to another person and defendant was not the initial aggressor.
- Intoxication – The defendant was so drunk that he lacked the capacity to understand the impact of what he/she had done.
- Insanity Defense – The defendant engaged in conduct we consider morally blameworthy, but because the mental state of the defendant he is not morally blameworthy due to his/her mental culpability.
- Lack of requisite intent – The defendant lacked the requisite mens rea (intent) of purposefully, knowingly, or recklessly causing grievous bodily harm to the victim.
Punishment if Found Guilty
Illinois is not a death penalty state. Therefore, a defendant may not be sentenced to death if they have been found guilty of first degree murder.
Punishment in a first degree murder case is determined at a sentencing hearing held at the request of the court.
At the hearing, the judge may hear evidence on aggravating and mitigating factors involved in the crime and determine a penalty dependent on those factors. The court will consider or instruct the jury to consider any aggravating and mitigating factors which are relevant to the imposition of the sentencing.
Mitigating factors may include, but are not limited to:
- No significant history of prior criminal activity;
- Extreme emotional distress with reasonable explanation;
- The defendant’s background includes a history of extreme emotional or physical abuse; and
- The defendant suffers from a reduced mental capacity.
Contact a Chicago Defense Attorney if Accused of Murder
If you are facing criminal prosecution for any homicide-related crime or have been charged with first degree murder, Goldman & Associates can assist you in understanding and protecting your legal rights. Reach out to our attorneys today to discuss your case.