Illinois Manslaughter Statute Controversy

The Illinois manslaughter statute recently came under scrutiny after a controversial conclusion to a highly publicized case. The loophole, as some news sources refer to it, stems from the language of the statute and its interpretation by the court. With the right argument, it may create a successful defense against the most serious of charges.

The Illinois statute states in part that the offense of involuntary manslaughter occurs when a person “unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification” by committing lawful or unlawful acts that cause death and these acts are “likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual.” The statute also states that the individual must perform the act recklessly and this is where the controversy lies. According to an article in the Chicago Tribune, a judge’s interpretation of the statute led to a highly controversial acquittal.

The Case Details

  • A police detective came under investigation after shooting an unarmed woman
  • The State’s Attorney charged the detective with involuntary manslaughter, and not murder
  • The defendant’s attorney filed a motion for a directed acquittal in the midst of the trial, under the assertion that his client’s actions did not meet the statutory definition of the crime
  • After hearing testimony, the judge in the case reportedly ruled that the detective’s actions were intentional and “beyond reckless”
  • The judge acquitted the detective of the involuntary manslaughter charge because his actions did not meet the statutory definition. He also reportedly stated that he was not able to convict the detective of any offense that is greater than the offense sought by the prosecution, which would have been some degree of murder.

The Importance of a Comprehensive Defense

This case exemplifies how a comprehensive defense can become the deciding factor for an acquittal. Even if your charges do not rise to the level of manslaughter or murder, it is important to launch an aggressive defense for the purpose of defending your name and your record. In the criminal courts, this not only entails the presentation of clear and concise arguments, but also an understanding of the crime’s every element and how to best counter each one to your advantage. Something that may seem like a small detail can greatly affect your opportunity to present a successful defense.

If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges in Illinois, contact the Law Office of Stephanie Kemen. An accomplished criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Stephanie Kemen will provide you with a comprehensive and aggressive defense. Call the office at 312-945-6612 today for an evaluation of your case.