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Illinois Criminal Code of 1961

Article 5 - Illinois Crimes Involving Multiple People

In this section, Article 5 of the Illinois criminal code, legislators addressed criminal acts involving multiple people. They define who is responsible for crimes in such circumstances and who can be held accountable for such crimes.

This law is important because many crimes are not committed by just one person. We have been involved in many criminal cases where judges or juries examine accountability for crimes where more than one person is involved. Something that many people do not fully undertstand is that a person can still be charged with a crime that he or she personally did not commit.

For example, Section 3-1 states that a person is responsible for a crime when the crime is conducted by someone he is legally accountable for. The specific qualifications for "accountability" are listed in Section 5-2, but include circumstances when a person encourages, plans, aids, or abets a crime.

Are you accused of a crime in which others were involved? If so, there may be some effective legal strategies that could help you win your criminal case. Call our Chicago criminal defense attorneys today at (312) 466-9466 to discuss your case.

The text below comes from Article 5 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 5

Sec. 5-1. Accountability for conduct of another.
    (720 ILCS 5/5-1)

A person is responsible for conduct which is an element of an offense if the conduct is either that of the person himself, or that of another and he is legally accountable for such conduct as provided in Section 5--2, or both. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

Sec. 5-2. When accountability exists.
    (720 ILCS 5/5-2)

A person is legally accountable for the conduct of another when:

(a) having a mental state described by the statute defining the offense, he or she causes another to perform the conduct, and the other person in fact or by reason of legal incapacity lacks such a mental state;

(b) the statute defining the offense makes him or her so accountable; or

(c) either before or during the commission of an offense, and with the intent to promote or facilitate that commission, he or she solicits, aids, abets, agrees, or attempts to aid that other person in the planning or commission of the offense.

When 2 or more persons engage in a common criminal design or agreement, any acts in the furtherance of that common design committed by one party are considered to be the acts of all parties to the common design or agreement and all are equally responsible for the consequences of those further acts. Mere presence at the scene of a crime does not render a person accountable for an offense; a person's presence at the scene of a crime, however, may be considered with other circumstances by the trier of fact when determining accountability. A person is not so accountable, however, unless the statute defining the offense provides otherwise, if:

(1) he or she is a victim of the offense committed;

(2) the offense is so defined that his or her conduct was inevitably incident to its commission; or

(3) before the commission of the offense, he or she terminates his or her effort to promote or facilitate that commission and does one of the following: (i) wholly deprives his or her prior efforts of effectiveness in that commission, (ii) gives timely warning to the proper law enforcement authorities, or (iii) otherwise makes proper effort to prevent the commission of the offense. (Source: P.A. 96-710, eff. 1-1-10.)

Sec. 5-3. Separate conviction of person accountable.
    (720 ILCS 5/5-3)

A person who is legally accountable for the conduct of another which is an element of an offense may be convicted upon proof that the offense was committed and that he was so accountable, although the other person claimed to have committed the offense has not been prosecuted or convicted, or has been convicted of a different offense or degree of offense, or is not amenable to justice, or has been acquitted. (Source: Laws 1961, p. 1983.)

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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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