There are many severities of punishment when it comes to murder or homicide in Illinois. For example, consider the two possible scenarios in which death could occur: 1) a driver carelessly text while driving and runs over a pedestrian in a crosswalk, and 2) a person plots and shoots their business partner over a business argument. In both scenarios the victims are equally dead, but one died of manslaughter while the other died of first degree murder. There are three general categories of homicide: first degree murder, second degree murder, and manslaughter.
When Does Second Degree Murder Occur and What Sets it Apart From First Degree Murder?
First degree murder is a premeditated plot to kill, second degree murder is a murder in the “heat of the moment,” and manslaughter is unintentional but caused by reckless or careless behavior.
Second degree murder “occurs when the defendant commits either intentional, knowing, or strong-probability first-degree murder and the defendant either acted under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the victim or in an unreasonable belief that his actions were justified by self-defense,” according to the September Illinois Criminal Law Digest. In some instances, murder charges are reduced during the appeals process when an argument can be made in favor of the defendant’s actions or thoughts at the time of the murder.
Road Rage Incident Turns Deadly During Short Lived Fistfight
In the summer of 2016, an appellate court reversed the original charges of second degree murder when a man killed another in a road rage incident, according to the June Illinois Criminal Law Digest. The defendant entered into an argument with another man regarding road rage and hit him in the face with his fist. The blow knocked the other man back, who hit his head on the ground and died of his injuries. The defendant was charged with second degree murder.
Knowing That One’s Acts Create a Strong Probability of Death
However, the appellate court ruled that because the defendant did not know that his acts created a strong probability of death or great bodily harm, the second degree murder charges should be reversed. To commit second degree murder, a reasonable person must have knowledge that their actions would result in another’s death. According to the Illinois Criminal Law Digest, “there is a general rule in Illinois law that death is not ordinarily contemplated as a natural consequence of a blow or blows from a bare fist,unless there is a great disparity in size and strength between the defendant and the victim.” Because the victim and the defendant were of similar size, and the defendant only struck the victim once, the appellate court concluded the “defendant could not have known that death or great bodily harm was practically certain to occur.”
Call Chicago Criminal Appeals Attorneys Barney and Hourihane Today
If you have been charged with homicide of any degree, or another crime that you were wrongly, or overly, punished for, do not hesitate to call the Chicago criminal appeals attorneys of Barney and Hourihane today at 312-854-0906.