While it is true that all murders are considered homicides, it is also true that not all homicides are considered murder. Murder is reserved for a certain class of offenses that requires malicious forethought and the intent to harm, while manslaughter is defined by either a sudden rage or a lack of intent. In this article, we will discuss the differences between them.
Involuntary manslaughter is defined by the unintentional taking of another person’s life. However, not all unintended acts that result in death rise to the standard of manslaughter. In order to be considered involuntary manslaughter, the person must behave recklessly and with a wanton disregard for the safety of others.
The most common reason that an individual is charged with involuntary manslaughter is that he or she killed someone while driving under the influence of alcohol. In this case, they knew that their actions could potentially harm another person, but did it anyway.
Depending on the circumstances, involuntary manslaughter can be charged as either a third or second-degree felony. Aggravating factors may include:
Unlike many other states, Illinois only kind of recognizes voluntary manslaughter as a charge. Usually considered a “crime of passion,” voluntary manslaughter in Illinois can only be applied to unborn children. In order to be convicted of voluntary manslaughter, the prosecution must show that the defendant either intentionally or negligently harmed a woman, causing her to lose her baby. Voluntary manslaughter is a class 1 felony.
Second-degree murder occurs when an individual intends to kill or cause bodily harm to another person or takes some action that creates a strong possibility that another person will be killed. The prosecutor must prove that the defendant intended to seriously harm the individual or knew that their actions would create a strong possibility of killing the individual. Since second-degree murder requires intent, a defendant may claim a lack of intent as a defense. Second-degree murder is a class 1 felony.
Most homicide defendants are charged with first-degree murder. The major difference between first and second-degree murder is mitigating circumstances that warrant a lesser charge. Premeditation does not define first-degree murder in Illinois. However, if a defendant was severely provoked by a victim, that may be cause to charge second as opposed to first-degree murder. While Illinois is no longer a death-penalty state, defendants can be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
The Law Office of Jonathan Minkus has experience defending criminal defendants from homicide charges. If you have been charged with homicide, you need an attorney to try your case. Give us a call or contact us online to discuss your options.
Senior Partner Jonathan Minkus has successfully defended individuals charged with every conceivable criminal offense, from traffic misdemeanors to death-penalty eligible homicides.