Murder is commonly seen as the worst crime an individual can commit. The act of ending another person’s life is punishable by a lengthy prison sentence and other harsh penalties. Although rare, some unfortunate situations occur in individuals’ lives that legally warrant killing another person. In the state of Illinois, the use of deadly force on another person may be justified if the person was directly threatening the defendant’s life.
Understanding Illinois Murder Charges
Similar to other criminal charges, murder is calculated, charged, and sentenced by degree. The degree of the murder charge is based on a few factors, including the situation of the crime and the intent of both parties involved. Murder is charged in Illinois on two different counts:
First-Degree Murder — First-degree murder involves killing someone with the intent to kill or cause great bodily harm. This is the most serious homicide charge in Illinois. The consequences of a first-degree murder conviction include a minimum of 20 years in prison. Probation or early release is not permitted for this type of crime. The state of Illinois does not have the death penalty.
Second-Degree Murder — Second-degree murder is like first-degree murder in that the defendant killed another person without cause. However, there must be a situational circumstance that explains the reason for the murder. These circumstances can include that the defendant was provoked by the other party or the defendant acted impulsively without premeditation. Second-degree murder can lead to four to 20 years in jail, but probation could be available.
How a Defendant Can Explain Self-Defense as a Justified Cause
As mentioned in the descriptions of each murder charge, the defendant must not have had reasonable cause to murder another individual. However, if there was a reasonable explanation that led to the killing of another person, a defense attorney may be able to explain the use of self-defense to represent the defendant.
Someone charged with murder may be able to avoid conviction if there is enough evidence that the murder was an act of self-defense. To be acquitted of murder based on self-defense, the defendant must be able to show that:
There was a threat to the defendant during the time of the interaction
The threat was significant
The defendant believed that the force used was needed to protect himself or herself
The force used in self-defense was equivalent to the force of the threat
Examples of warranted self-defense may be:
An individual broke into your home and threatened to kill you
An individual was violently sexually assaulting, injuring, and threatening you
An individual was attacking you and injuring you enough that you could have died
Work With an Experienced Arlington Heights Defense Attorney
If you are being accused of murder and need representation, the office of Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law may be able to provide you with a strong defense. Arlington Heights criminal defense lawyer Scott F. Anderson commits to providing his clients with an aggressive defense for violent crimes such as murder. To schedule a free consultation with our office, call 847-253-3400 today.