Murder is among the most serious crimes you could ever commit. That being said, a murder itself is not always unlawful. They can be accidental or even a result of defending yourself against a serious threat.
Murder is defined as the unlawful killing of another person with malicious intent. That means that someone who commits murder, and who is convicted for it, would need to have planned to commit that crime. The murder must have been premeditated, deliberate, willful and malicious.
Murder can also happen in some other circumstances, such as if a killing occurs during:
- A burglary
- A robbery
- As a part of a pattern of assault or battery
…or other circumstances specified in 18 U.S. Code § 1111.
What is the difference between murder in the first or second degree?
Murder in the first degree is any kind of murder mentioned above. All other murders fall under second-degree status, which means that there was not premeditation. Murders of the second degree also intended to cause harm, but not necessarily death, or demonstrated an indifference to human life.
It’s important to note that there are gray areas in the law that could lead to someone facing murder charges when they were only defending themselves from harm or when the death was completely accidental. In those situations, it’s essential that the accused has a strong criminal defense team to protect them.
Is Illinois a death penalty state?
Illinois was a death penalty state until 2011. In 2011, capital punishment was repealed by legislation signed by Governor Pat Quinn. This made Illinois the 16th state to stop using capital punishment.
That being said, there are still harsh penalties for those who are convicted of murder. People could spend much of, or all of, their lives in prison if they are convicted. Whether you were defending yourself or someone else, were threatened or caused an accidental death, you need to take the charges against you seriously. If you don’t, you could end up with a conviction that is difficult to appeal and that leaves you trapped in prison for many years.