No matter the circumstances, a criminal charge should always be taken seriously in the state of Illinois. If you are arrested for a felony charge such as reckless homicide, however, it's critical to seek the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Conviction of reckless homicide can have a devastating impact on nearly every aspect of your life.
If you are an Illinois resident who is facing such a charge, the team of attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are committed to helping you exercise your legal rights to the fullest and defend against your charge. Our legal team believes that it is important to fully understand the meaning of your charge, as well as the potential punishment that you can face if found guilty of the crime.
What is Reckless Homicide in Illinois?
In Illinois, cases of reckless homicide are governed by Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/9-3. The law states that "[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."
Certain factors of a death involving a vehicle can make a charge of reckless homicide "aggravated," meaning the penalties are more severe than a normal reckless homicide charge. These factors include:
- Committing reckless homicide while in a school zone;
- Committing reckless homicide while in a construction or maintenance zone;
- Committing reckless homicide after failing to comply with a police officer or traffic control aide;
- Causing the death of 2 or more persons while either failing to comply with a police officer or traffic control aide or while driving in a construction or maintenance zone; and
- Causing the death of a family member or person living in your household.
Potential Penalties for a Charge of Reckless Homicide
Reckless homicide is classified as a Class 3 felony in the state of Illinois. Conviction of such a charge can result in a prison sentence from 5 to 10 years, along with a fine of up to $25,000.
Aggravating factors can take a charge of reckless homicide from a Class 3 felony to a more severe felony charge, and can enhance the penalties that a person can face if found guilty of the offense. Penalties for aggravated cases of reckless homicide include:
- Committing the offense in a school zone: Class 2 felony conviction with imprisonment from 3 to 14 years;
- Committing the offense while driving in a construction or maintenance zone or while failing to comply with a police officer or traffic control aide: Class 2 felony conviction with imprisonment from 3 to 14 years;
- Causing the death of 2 or more persons while in a school zone or while failing to comply with a police officer or traffic control aide: Class 2 felony conviction with imprisonment from 6 to 28 years; and
- Causing the death of a household or family member: Class 2 felony conviction with imprisonment from 3 to 13 years.
The repercussions of a conviction of reckless homicide don't end at a criminal level--if found guilty of reckless homicide, the Class 3 felony conviction will remain on your criminal record indefinitely unless you are able to get the charge expunged from your record. A felony conviction can impact almost every aspect of your life, including your ability to secure a job or find a place to live. The social stigma that follows a felony conviction can be just as devastating to your life.
Possible Defenses to a Charge of Reckless Homicide
If you are facing a charge of reckless homicide, it's critical to retain an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Arming yourself with the skill and knowledge of a seasoned attorney can make a world of difference in helping you exercise your legal rights and ensure as positive of an outcome as possible.
An Illinois criminal defense attorney has the knowledge and expertise to utilize an arsenal of potential defenses that can help lessen the severity of the punishment that you face if convicted of your charge. In some cases, a legal defense may be so damaging to a prosecutor's argument that your charges may be dropped altogether. Common defenses to a reckless homicide charge include:
- You weren't acting recklessly at the time the death occurred. Your attorney may be able to prove that you were acting in a reasonable manner at the time that the accident occurred, or that outside circumstances beyond your control caused the death to occur. In other words, your attorney can try to prove that the actions leading up to the death were not intentional and that the resulting death was an honest accident.
- You were acting in self-defense when the death occurred or were acting in defense of another person. In some circumstances, you may have meant to have caused the death, but were doing so to protect yourself or someone else. Say, for example, that you swerved violently out of the way of a drunk driver who was driving down the wrong side of the road, killing an unseen cyclist in the process. If it can be proven that you genuinely didn't mean to do so, and were trying to save yourself from being hit by the oncoming vehicle, the reasoning for your actions may be a defense to your charge.
Charged with Reckless Homicide in Illinois? Contact Dolci & Weiland ASAP
If you have recently been arrested and charged with reckless homicide in the state of Illinois, the time to secure the help of a criminal defense attorney is now. You should never try to defend against as serious of a charge as reckless homicide on your own, and with Dolci & Weiland's attorneys on standby, you never have to. Don't wait until it is too late to get the legal help you need to defend against your charge--to speak with a member of the team of DUI defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland, fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office closest to you today--for our downtown Chicago location, call (312) 238-9007, or for our DuPage office, contact (630) 261-9098.