Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 9: Second Degree Murder

Second-degree murder, which is a Class 1 felony, receives a lesser sentence than the crime of first-degree murder. If, at the time of the killing, the defendant was acting with an intense passion due to a serious provocation, the defendant may be charged with second rather than first-degree murder.

One might ask, what counts as a provocation? This section defines it as conduct sufficient enough to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person. In other words, in order to be charged with second-degree murder, the offender must have been in a situation where any reasonable person would have entered a state of passion. For example, witnessing a partners infidelity could be a reasonable reason to lose control.

Need an Illinois criminal defense attorney? If you've been arrested for second degree murder 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. 9-2. Second degree murder.
    (720 ILCS 5/9-2)

(a) A person commits the offense of second degree murder when he or she commits the offense of first degree murder as defined in paragraph (1) or (2) of subsection (a) of Section 9-1 of this Code and either of the following mitigating factors are present:

(1) at the time of the killing he or she is acting under a sudden and intense passion resulting from serious provocation by the individual killed or another whom the offender endeavors to kill, but he or she negligently or accidentally causes the death of the individual killed; or

(2) at the time of the killing he or she believes the circumstances to be such that, if they existed, would justify or exonerate the killing under the principles stated in Article 7 of this Code, but his or her belief is unreasonable.

(b) Serious provocation is conduct sufficient to excite an intense passion in a reasonable person.

(c) When evidence of either of the mitigating factors defined in subsection (a) of this Section has been presented, the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove either mitigating factor by a preponderance of the evidence before the defendant can be found guilty of second degree murder. The burden of proof, however, remains on the State to prove beyond a reasonable doubt each of the elements of first degree murder and, when appropriately raised, the absence of circumstances at the time of the killing that would justify or exonerate the killing under the principles stated in Article 7 of this Code.

(d) Sentence. Second degree murder is a Class 1 felony. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

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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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