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Itasca criminal defense lawyerThe phrase “violent crimes” can refer to various types of criminal offenses. Under Illinois law, violent crimes involve harm or the threat of harm to another person. One of the most serious of these offenses is homicide. Illinois law distinguishes between the types or “levels” of homicide as follows: first-degree murder, second-degree murder, and involuntary manslaughter/reckless homicide. The main difference between the crimes is the state of mind of the alleged offender at the time of the killing. Generally, this means one act may be intentional or premeditated, while another may be accidental. This key distinction can be very important in building a criminal defense strategy for the defendant. 

First-Degree Murder

First-degree murder is the most serious homicide charge. According to Illinois law, it is defined as intending to kill or do great bodily harm to another person, while knowing that the act would cause death, and without lawful justification. In other words, the perpetrator acted intentionally, and the killing was not committed in self-defense. 

Felony murder refers to a legal doctrine that states that if a defendant commits a forcible felony (such as armed robbery), and that act results in someone’s death, the offender can be charged with first-degree murder as a result of that death.

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