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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 9: Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide

What happens if a person kills someone else accidentally? This question is answered by Section 9-3. Such an offender can still receive punishment and may be charged with the crime of involuntary manslaughter. This conviction occurs when the defendant was acting recklessly at the time of the victims death. In other words, he or she was acting in a way that was likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual. If the victim was a family or household member, the sentence is no less than 3 years but not more than 14 years of imprisonment.

If the offenders reckless behavior consists of driving a motor vehicle, the situation is slightly different. Instead of being charged with involuntary manslaughter, the defendant could be convicted of a crime called reckless homicide. Sentences vary based on circumstances of the crime; if the offender drove recklessly at a school crossing or construction zone, punishment could be increased.

In both cases, there need not be intent to kill or maim; the State can press charges against a defendant anyway.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for reckless homicide or involuntary manslaughter in Illinois, call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 9 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 9

Sec. 9-3. Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide.
    (720 ILCS 5/9-3)

(a) A person who unintentionally kills an individual without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly, except in cases in which the cause of the death consists of the driving of a motor vehicle or operating a snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft, in which case the person commits reckless homicide. A person commits reckless homicide if he or she unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle and using an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne.

(b) (Blank).

(c) (Blank).

(d) Sentence.

(1) Involuntary manslaughter is a Class 3 felony.

(2) Reckless homicide is a Class 3 felony.

(e) (Blank).

(e-2) Except as provided in subsection (e-3), in cases involving reckless homicide in which the offense is committed upon a public thoroughfare where children pass going to and from school when a school crossing guard is performing official duties, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years. (e-3) In cases involving reckless homicide in which (i) the offense is committed upon a public thoroughfare where children pass going to and from school when a school crossing guard is performing official duties and (ii) the defendant causes the deaths of 2 or more persons as part of a single course of conduct, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 6 years and not more than 28 years.

(e-5) (Blank).

(e-7) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e-8), in cases involving reckless homicide in which the defendant: (1) was driving in a construction or maintenance zone, as defined in Section 11-605.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or (2) was operating a vehicle while failing or refusing to comply with any lawful order or direction of any authorized police officer or traffic control aide engaged in traffic control, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years.

(e-8) In cases involving reckless homicide in which the defendant caused the deaths of 2 or more persons as part of a single course of conduct and: (1) was driving in a construction or maintenance zone, as defined in Section 11-605.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, or (2) was operating a vehicle while failing or refusing to comply with any lawful order or direction of any authorized police officer or traffic control aide engaged in traffic control, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 6 years and not more than 28 years.

(e-9) In cases involving reckless homicide in which the defendant drove a vehicle and used an incline in a roadway, such as a railroad crossing, bridge approach, or hill, to cause the vehicle to become airborne, and caused the deaths of 2 or more persons as part of a single course of conduct, the penalty is a Class 2 felony.

(e-10) In cases involving involuntary manslaughter or reckless homicide resulting in the death of a peace officer killed in the performance of his or her duties as a peace officer, the penalty is a Class 2 felony.

(e-11) In cases involving reckless homicide in which the defendant unintentionally kills an individual while driving in a posted school zone, as defined in Section 11-605 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, while children are present or in a construction or maintenance zone, as defined in Section 11-605.1 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, when construction or maintenance workers are present the trier of fact may infer that the defendant's actions were performed recklessly where he or she was also either driving at a speed of more than 20 miles per hour in excess of the posted speed limit or violating Section 11-501 of the Illinois Vehicle Code.

(e-12) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (e-13), in cases involving reckless homicide in which the offense was committed as result of a violation of subsection (c) of Section 11-907 of the Illinois Vehicle Code, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years. (e-13) In cases involving reckless homicide in which the offense was committed as result of a violation of subsection (c) of Section 11-907 of the Illinois Vehicle Code and the defendant caused the deaths of 2 or more persons as part of a single course of conduct, the penalty is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 6 years and not more than 28 years.

(e-14) In cases involving reckless homicide in which the defendant unintentionally kills an individual, the trier of fact may infer that the defendant's actions were performed recklessly where he or she was also violating subsection (c) of Section 11-907 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. The penalty for a reckless homicide in which the driver also violated subsection (c) of Section 11-907 of the Illinois Vehicle Code is a Class 2 felony, for which a person, if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years.

(f) In cases involving involuntary manslaughter in which the victim was a family or household member as defined in paragraph (3) of Section 112A-3 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, the penalty shall be a Class 2 felony, for which a person if sentenced to a term of imprisonment, shall be sentenced to a term of not less than 3 years and not more than 14 years. (Source: P.A. 95-467, eff. 6-1-08; 95-551, eff. 6-1-08; 95-587, eff. 6-1-08; 95-591, eff. 9-10-07; 95-803, eff. 1-1-09; 95-876, eff. 8-21-08; 95-884, eff. 1-1-09; 96-328, eff. 8-11-09.)

Sec. 9-3.1. (Renumbered).
    (720 ILCS 5/9-3.1)

(Source: Renumbered by P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 9-3.2. Involuntary Manslaughter and Reckless Homicide of an Unborn Child.
    (720 ILCS 5/9-3.2)

(a) A person who unintentionally kills an unborn child without lawful justification commits involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child if his acts whether lawful or unlawful which cause the death are such as are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to some individual, and he performs them recklessly, except in cases in which the cause of death consists of the driving of a motor vehicle, in which case the person commits reckless homicide of an unborn child.

(b) Sentence.

(1) Involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child is a Class 3 felony.

(2) Reckless homicide of an unborn child is a Class 3 felony.

(c) For purposes of this Section, (1) "unborn child" shall mean any individual of the human species from fertilization until birth, and (2) "person" shall not include the pregnant woman whose unborn child is killed.

(d) This Section shall not apply to acts which cause the death of an unborn child if those acts were committed during any abortion, as defined in Section 2 of the Illinois Abortion Law of 1975, as amended, to which the pregnant woman has consented. This Section shall not apply to acts which were committed pursuant to usual and customary standards of medical practice during diagnostic testing or therapeutic treatment.

(e) The provisions of this Section shall not be construed to prohibit the prosecution of any person under any other provision of law, nor shall it be construed to preclude any civil cause of action. (Source: P.A. 84-1414.)

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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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