First degree murder charges are the most serious type of homicide charges in Illinois. To be convicted of a first degree murder charge, a prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that a defendant had intent to kill or do great bodily harm, or that the acts they were committing had a strong possibility of causing death to an individual.
Although Illinois is no longer a death penalty state, if convicted, a defendant could easily face life in prison for their actions. That’s why it’s imperative to immediately retain the services of a top-rated murder defense attorney if you are charged with this kind of capital crime.
An attorney may be able to craft several possible defense strategies on your behalf and depending on your particular situation…
Some of those defenses may include:
A lack of intent – if a murder is committed but there was no forethought, then by law it cannot be considered murder in the first degree. The lack of premeditated thought would relegate it to a lesser charge of second degree murder instead.
A plea of insanity – in some instances, if it can be proven that the defendant lacked the mental capacity to knowingly and willfully commit a murder with premeditated and clear thought, then the charge may be dismissed or reduced to a lesser charge.
Self-defense – if a defendant acts in such a way to preserve their own life due to a direct threat from another, then a self-defense strategy may prove to be successful in a court of law. Closely aligned to this is a defense of others, meaning you took actions to protect another person or persons from an aggressive and life-threatening situation. In all self-defense situations, a defendant must be able to show that they were not the instigating party and that the degree of force they used was appropriate for the specific situation.
The Law Office of David M. Smith serves clients in Chicago, Cook County and surrounding Illinois communities.