Attorney Eric D. Puryear

Murder Charges in Illinois

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The crime of Murder in Illinois is defined by 720 ILCS 5/9-1 as the crime a person commits by killing another person under certain circumstances.


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First Degree Murder in Illinois

A person who kills an individual without lawful justification commits first degree murder if, in performing the acts which cause the death:

(1) he either intends 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


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(2) he knows that such acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm to that individual or another; or

(3) he is attempting or committing a forcible felony other than second degree murder.

First degree murder in Illinois is sometimes referred to as a “Class M” felony. It is punishable by a minimum of 20 years and a maximum of 60 years in prison. The Illinois Truth in Sentencing law requires that person convicted of 1st Degree murder serve 100% of the sentence before being released.


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Second Degree Murder in Illinois

A person commits the offense of second degree murder when he or she commits the offense of first degree murder as defined in paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (a) of Section 9-1 of this Code and either of the following mitigating factors are present:

(1) at the time of the killing he or she is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed or another whom the offender endeavors to kill, but he or she negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed; or

(2) at the time of the killing he or she believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify or exonerate the killing under the principles stated in Article 7 of this Code, but his or her belief is unreasonable.

(b) Serious provocation is conduct sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person.

(c) When evidence of either of the mitigating factors defined in subsection (a) of this Section has been presented, the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove either mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence before the defendant can be found guilty of second degree murder. The burden of proof, however, remains on the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of first degree murder and, when appropriately raised, the absence of circumstances at the time of the killing that would justify or exonerate the killing under the principles stated in Article 7 of this Code.

A conviction for second degree murder in Illinois is a Class 1 felony, which carries a prison term of up to 20 years.  This differs from most Class 1 felonies in Illinois, where the maximum penalty is 15 years in prison.  It is possible for a person convicted of 2nd Degree murder in Illinois to receive a term of probation instead of prison.

A murder charge is the most serious charge that a person can face in the state of Illinois.  Handing such a case properly is vital, and for that reason a person accused of murder is well advised to exercise their right to remain silent, and seek an attorney at once.


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