What is the Law on murder in Illinois and what are the Punishments for it?
When a person is charged with murder in the state of Illinois, the result of the lawsuit can have a great impact on his/her remaining life. Murders are categorized into 1st-degree and 2nd-degree murders in Illinois.
What you should know about Illinois 1st-degree murder
According to the state’s laws, whenever a person takes the life of another individual with no legal justification, he/she can be convicted of 1st-degree murder when:
- The accused was committing or attempting a forcible felony when the incident took place
- The defendant knew that such an act can lead to a strong possibility of serious physical injury or death
- The accused had the intention of either doing the person serious bodily harm or kill the person or knew that such an act can lead to death
It also signifies that the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant had the intention of causing severe physical injury to someone or kill a person or they killed somebody while making an attempt or committing a forcible felony like rape. The courts in Illinois regard the 1st-degree murder as the most severe homicide crime.
What you should know about Illinois 2nd-degree murder
A 2nd-degree murder is quite similar to 1st-degree murder in the state. The difference is that the former comes with specific mitigating conditions that can reduce the severity of the murder charge (second-degree murder). Second-degree murder charges in Illinois can be only proved when the prosecution establishes that the accused took the life of a person without legal justification and when any of the following condition is applicable:
- The defendant knows that his/her acts have a strong possibility of causing severe physical injury or death to the person, or
- Had the intention of doing great physical harm to that person or knew that his/her act could do so.
Difference between 1st-degree and 2nd-degree murders in Illinois
The 1st-degree murder in Illinois involves the intention to kill, and the prosecution has to establish this point to the jury. However, the exception to this rule is when a person takes the life of someone else while committing a forcible felony such as rape.
Courts in Illinois have the authority to convict such a person of a 1st-degree murder although they did not have the intention of killing that individual.
On the other hand, though a 2nd-degree murder has got similarities with 1st-degree murder, the prosecution should establish that the defendant murdered a person without lawful justification. Also, either of the following two conditions has to be satisfied:
- Knew that his/her act had a strong possibility of serious physical harm or death
- The accused wanted to do great physical harm to the victim or intended to kill the victim.
If a defense counsel proves any of the following points, the defendant can be punished for 2nd-degree murder, which means a lower punishment.
- The defendant believed that such a killing would be justified legally but he/she was wrong
- The defendant acted under an abruptly intense passion as he/she was highly provoked by the individual whose life they took or some other person whom they intended to murder.
Penalties of murder in Illinois
The state of Illinois has abolished the death penalty as a punishment. So, the highest penalty a person convicted of 1st-degree murder in the state can get is a life imprisonment term. The minimum punishment in the state for first-degree murder is 20 years.
On the other hand, a person convicted of 2nd-degree murder in Illinois can get a prison term of 4 to 20 years.