What is Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Manslaughter? Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Murder?

The trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd created worldwide attention to how and why police officers killed a criminal suspect. Chauvin was convicted earlier this year. Three other officers were charged as well, and their trials are coming up. They face charges of aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter and second degree murder. What do those charges mean?

The attorneys of Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. believe everyone involved in the criminal justice system deserves fair representation and the assumption of innocence until proven guilty. If you’re arrested or are the target of a criminal investigation, your voice will be heard, and you will get the most effective defense possible in your case. Call us today at 630-305-0222 to schedule your free consultation.

Every state’s criminal laws are unique. Floyd’s murder took place in Minnesota. If the three officers’ trials take place under Illinois law, the outcome may be different. There is no second degree manslaughter in Illinois law, though under the facts, it may be charged as involuntary manslaughter.

What does aiding and abetting second degree murder mean? Aiding and abetting means helping someone commit a crime and you intentionally provide that help. Working at a gas station used by a bank robber to fuel his getaway car wouldn’t mean you aided and abetted a bank robbery. If you stand outside the bank and use your phone to tell the bank robber the police are coming, that could be aiding and abetting.

What is Aiding and Abetting?

Under Illinois statute §720 ILCS 5/5-1,2,3, subsection 5-1 states, in part, “Accountability for conduct of another. A person is responsible for conduct which is an element of an offense if the conduct is either that of the person himself, or that of another and he is legally accountable for such conduct.…”

Subsection 5-2 partially states: “A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another when…during commission of an offense, and with the intent to promote or facilitate that commission, he or she…aids, abets, agrees, or attempts to aid that other person in the planning or commission of the offense.”

Possible defenses to an aiding and abetting charge could be, depending on the facts:

  • Withdrawal: The defendant changed their mind and withdrew their intent to help with the crime. This was clearly communicated to the others involved in the crime, and the defendant did what could reasonably be done to stop the crime from happening
  • Didn’t actually assist: The person didn’t help in the commission of the crime in any way. He or she was just a bystander.
  • Duress: The defendant helped commit the crime because they were forced to do so when they were threatened with retaliation if they did not.
  • Intent: The defendant didn’t intend to help someone commit a crime.
  • Underlying crime didn’t happen: To be guilty of aiding and abetting a crime, a crime must have been committed. In this case, if a second degree murder wasn’t committed, the defendant couldn’t have been involved in it.

What is Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Murder?

What does aiding and abetting second degree murder mean? Second degree murder is a first degree murder but with mitigating factors. Under state law, first degree murder is killing someone without legal justification and . . .

  • The intent is to kill or do great bodily harm, or the person knows violent acts will cause death, or
  • The acts create a strong probability of death or great bodily harm, or
  • The person is committing a forcible felony or trying to, other than second degree murder.

Second degree murder under §720 ILCS 5/9-2 is defined as committing first degree murder and at the time of the killing . . .

  • They are acting under a sudden and intense passion caused by a serious provocation by the victim or another whom the offender tries to kill and negligently or accidentally kills them, or
  • They believe the killing is legally justified, but that belief is unreasonable.

Those found guilty of aiding and abetting can be punished for the same crime as the main perpetrator. Murder in the second degree is a class one felony. If found guilty of intentionally helping someone commit second degree murder, the sentence would be between four and 15 years in prison plus two years of mandatory supervision.

What is Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Manslaughter?

What does aiding and abetting second degree manslaughter mean? Though second degree manslaughter is a charge in Minnesota, no such crime exists in Illinois. A similar charge would be involuntary manslaughter. That’s defined as unintentionally killing someone without lawful justification if the acts killing the person are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to someone and they’re performed recklessly.

Acting recklessly is to consciously ignore a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will happen. The disregard shown must be a gross deviation from the usual care a reasonable person would use in the situation.

This is a class three felony, which generally carries a potential prison sentence of two to five years plus one year of mandatory supervised release. Aiding and abetting involuntary manslaughter would mean intentionally helping the person commit the crime.

Put Your Trust In Us — Contact Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. for a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one is charged with aiding and abetting, involuntary manslaughter, or second degree murder, hire the best criminal defense attorney you can find. The case may seem impossible to defend, but with skillful representation, you have a chance. The burden is on the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you are guilty. The burden’s not on you to prove your innocence.

We have law offices in DuPage County (Woodridge, IL) and Cook County (Chicago) offering free consultations. Call us at 630-305-0222 today to schedule one.

Attorney Marc Wolfe

Marc Wolfe has been representing clients in criminal matters in Chicago and the entire State of Illinois for over 30 years. Mr. Wolfe has tried over 300 cases to verdict and represents clients facing investigation or prosecution for a broad range of state and federal criminal offenses, including murder, embezzlement, sexual abuse, drugs, marijuana and white collar crimes. [ Attorney Bio ]