Violent Crimes

Murder is the most serious violent crime a person can face. Murder is not a separate crime but rather, a manner of death based upon the expert opinion of a forensic medical examiner. In layman terms, murder is the killing of a person by another person. Murder includes intentional killings like first-degree murder, second-degree murder or killings where intent does not matter such as felony murder, aggravated DUI causing death, reckless homicide, and negligent homicide. It also includes justified killings based upon self-defense or other affirmative defenses. 

First Degree Murder

Illinois defines first degree murder as a person who kills an individual without lawful justification. The act can be intended to kill or do great bodily harm to that individual or another, or knows that such acts will cause death to that individual or another; or knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.

Several affirmative defenses exist to first degree murder, including, self-defense (the defendant was justified in committing the act to defend himself), defense of others (the defendant was justified in committing the act to defend another), and insanity. Other defenses include an accident defense, i.e., the killing was unintentional, or mistaken identity. In some cases, murder charges may be able to reduced to involuntary manslaughter, for which the defendant may be eligible for probation. 

Attempt Murder

Under Illinois law, a person commits the offense of attempt when, with intent to commit a specific offense, he or she does any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense. Attempt murder is a Class X, non-probationable, felony, which carries a minimum of six years' imprisonment.

Involuntary Manslaughter 

When a person who unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly, except in cases in which the cause of the death consists of the driving of a motor vehicle or operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft, in which case the person commits reckless homicide. Involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony

Reckless Homicide

A person commits reckless homicide if he or she unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle and using an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne. 

Reckless homicide charges are common when a DUI (driving under the influence) results in a fatality. However, reckless homicide charges may also be brought based on an allegation that the defendant drove in a manner that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another. Reckless homicide is a Class 3 felony. 

People accused of a violent crime are often scared, confused and completely overwhelmed by the power and legal parameters of the criminal justice system. Brian R. Erwin has over 12 years of experience handling violent crime cases. He has won not guilty verdicts in many complicated violent criminal trials. He understands and keeps updated on the mechanics behind DNA profiling, fingerprint evidence, cell phone record analysis, gunshot residue, and interrogation techniques.