Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, Chicago has earned a reputation for being a hotbed of violent crime. When it comes to murder, the city seems to be heading in the wrong direction. In fact, according to reporting from NBC, Chicago’s 797 homicides in 2021 were more than in any other city in the U.S.
It may surprise you to know that it is possible to face first-degree murder charges even if you do not kill or intend to kill someone. That is, if someone dies while you are in the commission of a felony, prosecutors may charge you with first-degree murder using the felony-murder rule.
What constitutes first-degree murder in Illinois?
For prosecutors to secure a first-degree murder conviction, they must prove each element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Still, there are some options for charging a defendant with first-degree murder. To do so, only one of the following must be true:
- The defendant intended to kill or seriously injure someone else.
- The defendant knew his or her actions would result in someone’s death.
- The defendant knew his or her actions had the strong possibility of causing someone’s death or seriously injuring someone.
- The defendant was committing a felony or attempting to commit one when someone else died.
Is it possible to defend yourself?
First-degree murder charges are enough to intimidate virtually anyone. Nevertheless, you should not let your fear of criminal prosecution keep you from exploring all possible defenses. When it comes to felony murder, you may have a few.
Ultimately, before you accept a plea deal, it is advisable to fully understand both your criminal charges and the evidence prosecutors have to use against you.