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Presenting Self-Defense Against Homicide Charges

 Posted on November 16, 2023 in Criminal Defense

IL defense lawyerEvery state has different laws regarding self-defense. Illinois allows the use of self-defense if you are trying to protect yourself against someone illegally entering your property or if you are being attacked.

While the use of self-defense may be justified, it can lead to killing another person. If you used self-defense and are now facing homicide charges, you need to speak with a Chicago homicide defense attorney today.

Is Self-Defense Permitted in Illinois?

According to Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/7-1, a person is allowed to use self-defense “to the extent that he reasonably believes that such conduct is necessary to defend himself or another against such other’s imminent use of unlawful force.” 

Use of deadly force is permitted if the person believes that such force is necessary in order to prevent harm or death to himself or herself. In defending your home, deadly force is only allowed if the aggressor is attempting forcible entry into your residence.

Homicide Charges in Illinois

Illinois recognizes two types of murder: first-degree and second-degree murder. A person can be convicted of first-degree murder in any of the following circumstances:

  • If a person intends to kill or cause great bodily harm to an individual or another
  • If a person knows that certain actions have the potential to kill or cause great bodily harm to an individual or another, or
  • If a person, with or without help, intends to commit or commits a forcible felony and, in the course of such felony, kills another (known as “felony-murder”)

A person can be convicted of second-degree murder if any of the following factors are present, which will reduce the crime from first-degree murder: 

  • If a person kills someone in the “heat of passion” or moment of intense emotion provoked by the victim
  • If a person believes that the use of force was reasonable at the time, or
  • If the person’s belief that the killing was justified is unreasonable

Can You Be Acquitted if You Were Acting in Self-Defense?

In a recent poll, teenagers in neighborhoods with high gun violence were surveyed in Chicago. One-third (1/3) of respondents carried a gun, and of this number, 72% reported being victimized, and 37% had been shot or shot at in the last year. Those surveyed attested that they carried a gun as a means to protect themselves.

To demonstrate self-defense in court, you must prove that:

  • The assailant threatened force or used force against you or another person
  • You or another person were in imminent danger
  • You believed that the use of force was necessary and reasonable to avert the danger given the circumstances
  • Your assailant was committing an illegal act

Self-defense is an affirmative defense, meaning that the defendant will be acquitted if a judge or jury finds that you did act in self-defense. The defendant has to present evidence or testimony to raise a self-defense plea, known as the burden of production. The prosecutor will then have to present sufficient evidence to show that the defendant’s use of force was not justified, known as the burden of persuasion.  

Proving self-defense is not something that anyone can do. You will want a skilled Cook County homicide defense attorney to find the strongest evidence supporting your self-defense claim.

Contact a Chicago, IL, Homicide Defense Attorney Today

Everyone has the right to defend themselves from harm. If you used self-defense and are currently facing homicide charges, you need the aggressive representation that can only be found in a Cook County, IL, homicide defense attorney. Contact the Law Offices of James F. DiQuattro today to schedule your free consultation online or by calling 312-627-9482.

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