Illinois’s extremely broad felony murder law mandates your prosecution for first-degree murder if someone dies while you and/or an accomplice are in the process of committing a forcible felony or as a direct result of that forcible felony. If convicted, you will serve a minimum 20 years in prison and could receive a life sentence.
Restore Justice explains that the jury can convict you of felony murder even under the following circumstances:
- You did not commit the murder yourself.
- You did not know a murder would occur.
- You did not intend that anyone should die.
- You did not know that the crime in which you participated would lead to someone’s death.
- You had not yet attained the age of majority at the time of the murder.
Forcible felony crimes
Illinois law lists numerous crimes as forcible felonies, including the following:
- Robbery and burglary
- Arson and aggravated arson
- Kidnapping and aggravated kidnapping
- Criminal sexual assault
- Aggravated battery
- Any felony involving the threat or use of physical force against someone
Proximate cause standard
Illinois law uses the proximate cause theory when prosecuting a defendant for felony murder. What this means is that the jury can hold you responsible for causing any death that occurred as a direct result of your commission of or participation in a forcible felony. This includes the death of innocent bystanders that someone other than you actually killed and the death of any of your co-perpetrators engaging in the forcible felony that law enforcement officers kill during their attempt to stop the crime or halt the flight afterwards.