What Constitutes as First-Degree Murder in Illinois?

What Constitutes as First-Degree Murder in Illinois?

Murder Defense Attorney

What Constitutes as First-Degree Murder in Illinois?

There are not many crimes that can be considered more serious and inhumane than a murder. Based on the nature and severity of the crime, a murder conviction carries a mandatory minimum prison time of 20 years, under any circumstances. If it is proved in court that you used a firearm to murder the other victim, the prison sentence can increase up to 45 years. In special circumstances, a judge may order a life sentence. Since a murder charge carries extremely serious consequences, it is important that you take the situation seriously if you have been convicted for one. If you are a prime suspect in a murder investigation or have been arrested for murder, you should seek legal counsel of an experienced murder defense attorney immediately.


Understanding the First-Degree Murder Under Illinois Law


The statutory guidelines for first-degree murder have been laid out in 720 ILCS 5/9-1. According to the legislation, killing of a person without any legal justification constitutes as a first-degree murder, provided that:


  • The accused intentionally meant to cause serious bodily harm or death of the victim
  • The accused knew that engaging in such acts would cause death to the victim
  • It was in the knowledge of the accused that certain acts entail a high probability of serious bodily harm or death
  • The accused knew that they are perpetrating or attempting to perpetrate a forcible felony except a second-degree murder.


Illinois law has also outlined the factors that can aggravate the penalties and fines for a first-degree murder case. Some aggravating factors include the type or level of torture involved before murder, victim’s age, contract killing, use of a firearm, or murder of a corrections officer, among others. A few factors that can work in the accused’s favor include mental illness, lack of knowledge, insanity, intoxication, self-defense, lack of intent, or not being present at the scene of killing.


Consequences of a Murder Conviction


Since Illinois has repealed the death penalty punishment for murder cases in 2011, the maximum penalty the accused can get is a life sentence. Generally, they are given 60 to 100 years of imprisonment without parole based on the presence of aggravating factors, or 20 to 60 years of imprisonment without parole. Being charged with murder can literally destroy your reputation in the society, significantly affecting your opportunities in the future.


To avoid the stigma that comes with murder charges, you should retain the legal services of a murder defense attorney, as they will build a strong, viable case to prove your innocence in the court of law. An experienced murder defense attorney will thoroughly examine the eyewitness statements, police investigation reports, forensic evidence, and other relevant factors affecting your case.


If you are seeking effective legal representation to have your murder charges reduced or dropped, you should consider working with our knowledgeable and experienced criminal defense attorney. Contact the law firm of Michael D. Ettinger & Associates, today 708-377-5426 to discuss your case today.