Second degree murder is technically defined as first degree murder with mitigating factors. In other words, the crime involves killing a person, but the charge is lessened when the circumstances make the act less egregious. For example, if an individual kills another in a moment of sudden and intense passion (as opposed to a premeditated plan), then the charge will be second degree murder. Similarly, if it can be demonstrated in court that the defendant truly believed his or her actions would be justifiable, even though in reality they were not, then a first degree murder charge can be changed to second degree murder. Clearly, these are serious charges and it is important that you contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney immediately.
The official legal definition can be found under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/9-2
It is important to understand where the burdens of proof lie. It is the prosecutor’s responsibility to demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that the case meets all the requirements for first degree murder. If this is not possible, the case will be dropped. However, in the case that this is possible, the burden of proof then lies on the defendant to prove that one or more mitigating factors were present and that the charge should therefore be lessened to second degree murder, involuntary manslaughter, or reckless homicide.
The death penalty has been eliminated in the state of Illinois. Second degree murder is a Class 1 felony, which typically carries 4-15 years in prison. However, second degree murder convictions can result in up to 20 years in prison. Unlike first degree murder, there is a possible alternative for 4 years of probation.
In addition to a prison sentence, a conviction may require a fine up to $25,000. After the prison sentence is completed, there will be a mandatory 2 year parole period.
The difference between a 20 year prison sentence plus $25,000 in fines and 4 years of court supervision is clearly a great one. To help ensure that your future receives the best possible outcome, it is important that you contact our law offices immediately, while the memory of the altercation is still fresh in your memory, to provide yourself with the best possible defense.
There are a number of defenses a defendant can use in court. Among the most common are intoxication, lack of intent, lack of knowledge, insanity, and self-defense. The details of every case are different, and the only way to know whether a defense is applicable to your case is to consult with a qualified attorney. Some of these defenses can result in the charge being dropped entirely, while other can lessen the charge to involuntary manslaughter.
Michael Schmiege runs a boutique firm of nationally recognized criminal defense lawyers for Will County, including the cities of Joliet, Bolingbrook, Plainfield, Romeoville, Lockport, and New Lenox. Give your future the best chance with our highly skilled defense strategies and understanding of prosecutor tactics. Aggressive, skilled legal counsel is always your best chance for a favorable outcome when your future is in jeopardy. Contact us immediately to ensure you have strong legal representation for drug charges in Will County.
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