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What Is a Felony Murder?


Let’s say Blake and Max planned to rob a convenience store. Max pointed a gun at the clerk and demanded that he hand over all the money in the register. Blake stood as a lookout by the door. After the clerk emptied the cash into Max’s backpack, the perpetrators fled the scene. As they were running to their car, the clerk chased them and shot Max, who later died of his injuries. Although Blake did not kill Max, he could be charged with felony murder.

Definition of a Forcible Felony

In Illinois, a person could be charged with first-degree murder if they were involved in a forcible felony offense that resulted in the death of another individual, whether that individual was a participant in the crime or a bystander. Forcible felonies can include burglary, kidnapping, rape, and robbery.

Additionally, the other person’s death need not be caused by a person who committed the crime; if a third-party, whose actions were the result of the defendant’s conduct, accidentally killed someone else, the defendant could be charged with murder.

If convicted of felony murder, the defendant can spend 20 to 60 years in prison. Depending on the circumstances, punishment can be increased to life in prison.

Proximate Theory Clause

The rationale behind this law is to deter individuals from participating in criminal acts that are a serious threat to society. Some argue that the felony murder law is unjust because the defendant lacked the intent to kill another human being. However, the law has been interpreted using the proximate theory clause that holds individuals responsible for any foreseeable deaths that might occur while they are committing a serious felony.

Schedule a Free Consultation with the Law Office of Steven Fine

Understanding that criminal charges and a conviction can seriously impact a person’s life, our attorney works tirelessly to build a defense and challenge the prosecutor’s case. We have over 20 years of legal experience and know-how to develop effective strategies, and we will fight hard to obtain a favorable outcome on your behalf.

Speak with our lawyer today by calling us at (312) 436-0638 or contacting us online.