Causing the death of another human being is a tragic situation, even if this happened by accident. In Illinois, this is considered manslaughter, which is defined as the unintentional killing of a person without lawful justification (see 720 ILCS 5/9-3). A charge of manslaughter is a serious one that will be vigorously prosecuted, and a conviction could mean years in jail and a large fine. Even merely being charged with a crime that results in death will have consequences that will follow you forever, ruining your reputation and negatively impacting your relationships, career, education, housing, and benefits.
If you are facing such allegations, you need the best defense available as prosecutors will be fighting to impose the steepest punishment. The seasoned Illinois criminal defense attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. have extensive experience in all areas of homicide and know that there are aspects of a manslaughter charge that may lead to a dismissal or result in a lesser offense or penalty. We offer a free consultation to examine the issues in your case and determine what we can do to help fight for your rights and freedom.
Illinois classifies crimes that result in death without lawful justification as either murder or manslaughter. As a rule, murder involves an intentional killing, while manslaughter does not. Manslaughter is usually classified as involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide, or it can involve the voluntary manslaughter of an unborn child.
To be considered as involuntary manslaughter, the person must have “recklessly” performed the act(s) causing an individual’s death. “Recklessly” is defined as when the person “consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow.” This disregard must be shown to be “a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation.”
If you have been charged with manslaughter, the prosecutor believes that the action that led to the death was likely to result in death or serious bodily harm and that, even if you had no intent to kill, you recklessly engaged in these acts with disregard to the potential for serious bodily harm or death.
To get a conviction under Illinois law, the prosecutor must prove:
Reckless homicide, also called vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter, is a related charge involving unintentionally causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle, including motor vehicles, snowmobiles, boats, or all-terrain vehicles. It is also considered reckless homicide if death occurred by causing a vehicle to go airborne.
When a person has died, penalties usually involve some jail or prison time due to the severe consequence of the reckless or dangerous acts.
Involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide are considered to be a Class 3 felony. Punishments may be 2-5 years in prison and a fine of up to $25,000. Under some circumstances, the charge may become a Class 2 felony.
Reckless Homicide is a Class 2 felony, with punishments of 3-7 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines, or periodic imprisonment of 18-30 months, or probation or conditional discharge of up to 4 years, a fine of up to $25,000 or restitution.
The range of sentences allows judges to have discretion in determining punishment based on any aggravating or mitigating factors in a case. Mitigating factors, such as accepting responsibility for what happened, may decrease punishment. Aggravating factors, such as past history or reckless behavior, increase severity of punishment.
Penalties may also be increased for factors that include:
In addition, you may have to pay restitution to the victim’s family, participate in community services and attend counseling.
There are several potential defenses to manslaughter charges, including:
If you or a loved one is charged with manslaughter, you need to hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find. Your case may seem impossible, but with skillful representation you have a chance. Remember, the law places a heavy burden on the government, and you have to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The manslaughter defense lawyers at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. are skilled trial lawyers who believe each case is unique, with its own set of circumstances. Whether your criminal law case is seemingly straightforward or highly complicated, we can help. We know the judges and the court system and will aggressively explore every avenue for your defense. We examine the facts, the individuals involved, and the evidence available, and work hand in hand with our clients throughout the criminal process. We explain all elements and processes of the case and come up with an effective defense strategy tailored to your specific circumstances. Our goal is always to minimize the negative impact of the situation and to focus on protecting your freedoms, liberties and rights.
Don’t delay — contact us for help today at 630-305-0222 if you have been accused of manslaughter. Our Illinois criminal defense lawyers represent clients in DuPage County, Naperville, Aurora, Wheaton, Downers Grove and Bolingbrook, Illinois, and the greater Chicagoland area. We offer free initial consultations.