Second degree murder is a less serious offense than first degree murder. However, a second degree murder charge should not be taken lightly. A conviction for second degree murder can ruin the rest of your life, creating an obstacle to move on with your life. An Illinois homicide attorney can provide you legal guidance if you are facing criminal charges. If you have been charged with second degree murder, contact a Chicago attorney at Goldman & Associates for help with your case.
Illinois State Law
Under Illinois Law, pursuant to 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. 5/9-2, second degree murder is similar to first degree murder, except that there are mitigating factors that may reduce the charge to murder in the second degree.
Ultimately, the prosecution must prove that the:
- Defendant intended to kill or cause great bodily harm to the victim, or knew that the act would do so;
- Defendant knew the act created a strong probability of causing death or great bodily harm to the victim
Mitigating factors that will reduce the charge from first degree murder to second degree murder include that the defendant:
- At the time of the killing, acted under a sudden and intense passion, resulting from serious provocation by the victim;
- Negligently or accidentally caused the death of the innocent individual when the defendant attempted to kill another; or
- At the time of the killing, believed that the killing would have been necessary to defend himself against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force, but the defendant’s belief was unreasonable.
In order to have the prosecution convict the defendant for the offense of second degree murder, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant killed an individual without a lawful defense.
Serious provocation must be a form of conduct by the victim, or another person, that would cause a reasonable person to become to inflamed with passion and cause him to act from the moment of passion, rather than reason. It is important to understand that the defendant has the burden of proof to show that he/she was provoked to cause harm to the victim. If the defendant is unable to prove serious provocation, the prosecution may be able to successfully convict the defendant of first degree murder.
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 second degree murder.
Unlike first degree murder, second degree murder is a Class 1 Felony that carries from 4 to 20 years in prison.
An alternative to jail permits probation for up to 4 years.
Contact a Chicago Defense Attorney if You Have Been Accused of Second Degree Murder
If you are facing criminal prosecution for any homicide-related crime or have been charged with second degree murder, Goldman & Associates can assist you in understanding and protecting your legal rights. Reach out to our experienced and professional attorneys today to discuss your case.