How Does Illinois Define Felony Murder?
July 14, 2020
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
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.