Menu

Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 4 - Illinois Criminal Acts and Mental State

Even if a person commits a voluntary act, this evidence alone is not enough to prove guilt. During the commission of the crime, the defendant must act with a certain mental state. The mental state can be any of the following, as listed in sections 720 ILCS 5/4-4 through 720 ILCS 5/4-7: intent, knowledge, recklessness, or negligence.

To have intent, one must have a conscious objective to accomplish a result. A defendant has knowledge when he knows the nature and potential result of his criminal conduct. Recklessness requires that a defendant consciously disregard a substantial risk. Lastly, a defendant is negligent when he fails to be aware of a substantial risk when a reasonable person normally would. An offender must qualify for one of these mental states in order to be convicted.

Need a good Chicago-area criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested or charged with a crime in the Chicago areas, call our Chicago criminal defense law firm today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 4 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 4

Sec. 4-3. Mental state.
    (720 ILCS 5/4-3)

(a) A person is not guilty of an offense, other than an offense which involves absolute liability, unless, with respect to each element described by the statute defining the offense, he acts while having one of the mental states described in Sections 4-4 through 4-7.

(b) If the statute defining an offense prescribed a particular mental state with respect to the offense as a whole, without distinguishing among the elements thereof, the prescribed mental state applies to each such element. If the statute does not prescribe a particular mental state applicable to an element of an offense (other than an offense which involves absolute liability), any mental state defined in Sections 4-4, 4-5 or 4-6 is applicable.

(c) Knowledge that certain conduct constitutes an offense, or knowledge of the existence, meaning, or application of the statute defining an offense, is not an element of the offense unless the statute clearly defines it as such. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

Sec. 4-4. Intent.
    (720 ILCS 5/4-4)

A person intends, or acts intentionally or with intent, to accomplish a result or engage in conduct described by the statute defining the offense, when his conscious objective or purpose is to accomplish that result or engage in that conduct. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

Sec. 4-5. Knowledge.
    (720 ILCS 5/4-5)

A person knows, or acts knowingly or with knowledge of:

(a) The nature or attendant circumstances of his or her conduct, described by the statute defining the offense, when he or she is consciously aware that his or her conduct is of that nature or that those circumstances exist. Knowledge of a material fact includes awareness of the substantial probability that the fact exists.

(b) The result of his or her conduct, described by the statute defining the offense, when he or she is consciously aware that that result is practically certain to be caused by his conduct.

Conduct performed knowingly or with knowledge is performed wilfully, within the meaning of a statute using the term "willfully", unless the statute clearly requires another meaning.

When the law provides that acting knowingly suffices to establish an element of an offense, that element also is established if a person acts intentionally. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 4-6. Recklessness.
    (720 ILCS 5/4-6)

A person is reckless or acts recklessly when that person consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, described by the statute defining the offense, and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation. An act performed recklessly is performed wantonly, within the meaning of a statute using the term "wantonly", unless the statute clearly requires another meaning. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 4-7. Negligence.
    (720 ILCS 5/4-7)

A person is negligent, or acts negligently, when that person fails to be aware of a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or a result will follow, described by the statute defining the offense, and that failure constitutes a substantial deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

   Return to Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 Table of Contents

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.

Chicago Criminal Defense Lawyer - (312) 466-9466 

Chicago Office

900 W. Jackson Blvd.

Suite 5W

Chicago, IL 60607

Map & Contact Info