Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 3 - Presumed Innocent in Illinois

After being charged with a crime in Illinois, the first question to consider is: "What are my rights when accused of a crime in Illinois?"

Article 3 of the Illinois Criminal Code, which exclusively focuses on Illinois criminal defendant rights, enumerates the rights to which a criminal defendant is entitled.

Specifically, Sections 3-1 and 3-2 below state that defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty, and that the prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In other words, all Illinois crime defendants are innocent until proven guilty. This presumption of innocence and the concept of having to be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt are critical elements of the American criminal justice system, and they are taken very seriously by judges and juries operating in the Illinois criminal justice system.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been accused of a crime in Illinois, contact our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

As noted below, an insanity plea is a special case for reasonable doubt. If the defense wishes to argue insanity as a defense, they have the burden of providing evidence that the defendant was insane at the time of the offense.

The text below comes from Article 3 of the Illinois Criminal Code of 1961. This law may have changed -- please read the important legal disclaimer at the bottom of this page.

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 - Article 3 - Rights of Defendant

Sec. 3-1. Presumption of innocence and proof of guilt.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-1)

Every person is presumed innocent until proved guilty. No person shall be convicted of any offense unless his guilt thereof is proved beyond a reasonable doubt. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

Sec. 3-2. Affirmative defense.
    (720 ILCS 5/3-2)

(a) "Affirmative defense" means that unless the State's evidence raises the issue involving the alleged defense, the defendant, to raise the issue, must present some evidence thereon.

(b) If the issue involved in an affirmative defense, other than insanity, is raised then the State must sustain the burden of proving the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt as to that issue together with all the other elements of the offense. If the affirmative defense of insanity is raised, the defendant bears the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence his insanity at the time of the offense. (Source: P.A. 89-404, eff. 8-20-95; 90-593, eff. 6-19-98.)

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DISCLAIMER: These excerpts from the law are provided for reference purposes only. Visitors to our Chicago criminal defense lawyer website should be aware that Illinois criminal laws have been amended many times and that Illinois crime laws posted on this site may not be current. In addition, Illinois criminal case law defines precedents for legal determinations that are not defined in the original laws.

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