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How Does Illinois Define Felony Murder?

Mockaitis Law Group LLC 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

  • 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.