A recent decision by Cook County prosecutors not to pursue charges against five suspected gang members involved in a fatal Chicago shootout left many locals surprised and confused. Although all five were arrested on suspicion of murder and aggravated battery, they were later released from jail without being formally charged. The reason prosecutors cite for declining to charge the shooters is that they were engaged in “mutual combat,” according to a police report. But what does that mean?
If you are facing violent crime charges of any type, contacting an attorney as soon as possible is of great importance. You may have defenses available to you depending on the circumstances of your individual case, but you will need an experienced attorney to put on the best possible defense.
What Is the Legal Definition of “Mutual Combat”?
Simply put, mutual combat occurs when two adults willingly fight. In legal terms, mutual combat is defined as “a fight or struggle which both parties enter willingly or where two persons, upon a sudden quarrel and in hot blood, mutually fight upon equal terms and where death results from the combat.” This definition comes from a decision by the Supreme Court of Illinois in the case of People v. Austin, which dates back to 1990.
The recent gang-related gunfight allegedly involved two factions of the same gang, the “Four Corner Hustlers.” Little else is known about this incident. However, another Chicago area man avoided murder charges last week based on the legal concept of mutual combat. One Illinois man fatally stabbed another in Schaumburg last week in what appeared to be a mutual fight.
Defending With a Mutual Combat Claim
Violent crime is rarely completely unprovoked, and often, is the result of a confrontation between two people that became heated and violent. It can be difficult for courts to tell the difference between a simple fight involving willing participants and a true assault in which only one person was an aggressor. Even if a claim of mutual combat is not enough to get a charge dismissed, a skilled attorney may be able to use it as a mitigating factor during sentencing in Illinois.
Call a Cook County Violent Crimes Attorney
If you are charged with a violent crime, our Chicago criminal defense lawyers may be able to help. There are a number of defenses that may be available to you, but you will need to speak to a qualified attorney who can assess your individual case. Hartsfield Law has the experience necessary to raise any defenses you have and pursue a positive outcome for you. Call 312-345-1700 for a free consultation today.