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Controversy Surrounds Illinois’ Felony Murder Rule

Controversy Surrounds Illinois’ Felony Murder RuleFive teens have been charged with first-degree murder in Lake County for the death of another teen, despite the fact that none of them pulled the trigger on the gun that killed him. According to numerous reports, the six teens were allegedly attempting to burglarize a car at a private residence when the owner shot at them, killing one of them. The owner was licensed to carry the gun and claims he was acting in self-defense because he saw one of the teens move toward him with an unidentified object in his hand. The five teens are being charged as adults, although four of them are younger than 18. Prosecutors are allowed to charge the teens with first-degree murder because of Illinois’ controversial felony murder rule.

What Is Felony Murder?

Illinois law states that a death qualifies as a first-degree murder when a suspect:

  • Intended to kill or cause bodily harm to the victim;
  • Knew that their actions caused a great risk of death or bodily harm; or
  • Were committing or attempting to commit a forcible felony other than second-degree murder.

The third condition is known as the felony murder rule, in which a person committing a violent crime may be charged with first-degree murder without needing to prove that they intended harm to the victim.

Why Is It Controversial?

Most states have a felony murder rule, but Illinois is in the minority in its broad application of the law:

  • A majority of states use the agency theory, which states that the defendant must be directly responsible for the death in order to be charged with murder; but
  • Illinois uses the proximate cause theory, which states that the defendant is responsible for any deaths that occur while committing a violent felony if they should have known that their actions put others at risk.

Thus, the teens have been charged with murder despite the fact that someone else killed their companion. The case may hinge on whether the court believes that the teens’ actions at the time of the shooting were a forcible felony, which is usually offenses such as robbery, arson, vehicular hijacking, and rape.

Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer

Illinois has criminal laws that advocacy groups have identified as archaic or in violation of a defendant’s civil liberties. The state government occasionally abolishes or revises these laws, but you cannot count on legal changes to save you from a seemingly unjust law. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, will work to get a just decision for your criminal charge. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-260-9647.

Source:

https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/breaking/ct-cb-old-mill-creek-felony-murder-rule-20190815-bdfgucyyr5ftnlcvf67xrfppxu-story.html

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