The official legal definition for first degree murder can be found under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/9-1. First degree murder, also know as premeditated murder, is among the most serious charges that can be leveled at a defendant.
The law is worded carefully in order to incriminate various criminal activity. An individual can be held accountable for first degree murder if he or she kills someone with clear intentions beforehand or if he or she understands that there is a strong probability that their actions will directly result in another’s death. Additionally, a second degree murder charge can be elevated to first degree murder if another forcible felony is committed alongside the murder.
Under Illinois law, there are a number of aggravating factors for first degree murder that can result in a life prison sentence upon conviction. These include if the victim was a police officer, correctional officer, or there were two or more counts of first degree murder. There are dozens of other aggravating factors, some of them highly uncommon like murder during a highjacking of a plane, which can also lead to an aggravated first degree murder charge.
It should be extremely clear that any individual under investigation for or charged with first degree murder faces the possibility of extremely life-altering or even life-ending consequences. The processes included in reaching a verdict are extremely complex and should be handled by an aggressive and highly experienced attorney.
In this dire situation, it is absolutely essential that you contact a qualified lawyer as soon as possible. The longer you wait to reach out for professional legal help, the more your memory of the incident weakens and your case becomes potentially weaker as well.
Illinois is no longer a death penalty state, so the maximum penalty is a life term in prison. The minimum penalty upon conviction is 20 years in a state penitentiary. However, aggravating factors can elevate that sentence 15 or more years. On the other hand, there are certain mitigating factors for first degree murder. In other words, under certain circumstances, the sentence can be lessened to better fit the crime. If the offender was intoxicated during the event or his or judgment was impaired by mental illness, the prison sentence can be lowered.
There are certain circumstances that can lead to a first degree murder case being dismissed outright. The act of killing is justified in some circumstances, some cases involve mistaken identity, and there are numerous strict procedures that police must follow while gather evidence. These scenarios are just a few possible ways a lawyer can defend you.
Additionally, an attorney can fight to have the charges lessened to second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or reckless homicide. Furthermore, if a conviction occurs, a lawyer can fight to have the sentence lessened, including a prison sentence, and/or fine.
Kerr & Schmiege are nationally recognized criminal defense lawyers for DuPage County, including the cities of Wheaton, Naperville, Aurora, Westmont, Oak Brook, and Lombard. An aggressive legal defense is the best method to ensure the charges are lessened or completely dropped. Failing these circumstances, a qualified legal defense can also fight to have a sentence minimized upon conviction. Contact our law offices immediately to protect your future and rights to the fullest extent of the law.
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