Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

Defending against Manslaughter Charges – Illinois Criminal Defense Counsel

In Illinois, the crime of manslaughter involves the unintentional killing of a person without lawful justification. See 720 ILCS 5/9-3. In deciding whether to charge a person with this offense, the prosecutor will consider whether the action that led to the death was likely to result in death or serious bodily harm and the individual recklessly engaged in these acts with disregard to the potential for serious bodily harm or death. Although there is no intent to kill, it is still prosecuted zealously by prosecutors and as such, is punishable by lengthy prison terms and large monetary fines. A closely related charge is reckless homicide where the defendant is charged with causing the death of another person while operating a vehicle.

Manslaughter charges in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs are extremely serious and it is crucial to have an experienced attorney who understands how to break down the elements of the prosecution’s case in order to develop a strong and effective defense. Attorney David L. Freidberg has dedicated nearly two decades to advocating passionately for his clients’ freedom and rights. He has put together a legal team that understands how to investigate the case in order to uncover inconsistencies and flaws in the prosecutor’s case. At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C., everyone is dedicated to getting the best outcome for individuals charged with the serious crime of manslaughter. Depending on the circumstances, this could mean a dismissal of the charges entirely or a reduction in the charges to minimize the impact on the client’s life. The legal team is also prepared to take the case to trial if this is in the best interests of the client.

Manslaughter Charges in Illinois

Manslaughter charges are brought by the prosecution when one person causes the death of another individual without lawful justification. Unlike homicide charges, this criminal act does not involve any intent to kill or premeditation to commit the act that resulted in the death. In most manslaughter cases, the act that resulted in the death must have been negligent or reckless. Under Illinois law, there are several elements that must be proven by the prosecutor in order to get a conviction for manslaughter, which are:

  • There was a death of an individual that was the result of the actions of the accused;
  • The defendant’s actions exhibited a disregard for human life or were inherently dangerous; and
  • The defendant knew or should have known that his actions could lead to the death of another person.

In addition to proving these elements, the prosecution also must overcome any arguments that the defendant acted with lawful justification in making the decisions that he made. In manslaughter cases, defenses such as self-defense and “defense of others” are very effective in undermining the prosecution’s arguments.

A closely related charge to manslaughter is reckless homicide, also referred to as vehicular homicide or vehicular manslaughter. A person may be charged with reckless homicide when he unintentionally causes the death of another person while operating a vehicle, including:

  • A motor vehicle;
  • A snowmobile;
  • A boat or other type of watercraft; or
  • An all-terrain vehicle (ATV).

A person also may be charged with reckless homicide if he brought about the death of another person after causing the vehicle in which he was riding to go airborne by driving over an incline in the road, including a hill, bridge approach, or railroad crossing. See 720 ILCS 5/9-3.

Penalties for Being Convicted of Manslaughter

When a person has been charged with manslaughter, it is a Class 3 felony. The penalties that a person might face if convicted of this offense include a prison term of between two to five years and a large legal fine. Probation is a possibility in manslaughter cases, but it is going to be dependent on the facts of the case. When a person has died, judges and juries frequently will impose a penalty that involves some jail or prison time in recognition of the severity of the consequence of the reckless or dangerous acts.

A reckless homicide also is charged as a Class 3 felony and a person is subject to the same penalties as a person convicted of manslaughter. However, there are circumstances that may lead to a person being charged with a Class 2 felony when the charge is either manslaughter or reckless homicide, which could result in a prison term of three to seven years, or more, if the defendant is convicted. This enhanced charge is brought when there are aggravating factors, including:

  • The identity of the victim – a law enforcement officer killed while on duty may lead to a Class 2 felony charge;
  • The location where the act occurred – individuals are expected to exercise caution in areas like a construction site or school zone and a death that occurs in these locations, or other places where special circumstances might apply, may lead to more serious charges;
  • The defendant caused the death of two or more people; or
  • The defendant was in violation of other laws at the time of the action leading to the manslaughter charges.

In addition to incarceration and fines, a person who is convicted of these criminal acts may have to pay restitution to the victim’s family. A person also may be required to participate in community services and attend counseling, depending on the facts of the offense.

Defending against Manslaughter Charges

There are many different defenses that can be raised when a person has been accused of manslaughter, including:

  • Self-defense;
  • Defense of another individual who was threatened with serious bodily harm;
  • Defense of the home of the accused, where another person has entered the residence unlawfully;
  • Accidental rather than reckless actions led to the death of another;
  • Involuntary intoxication;
  • Consent of the pregnant woman when the death involved the abortion of a fetus; or
  • Insanity or mental defect.

It also may be possible to argue that the police and prosecutor have the wrong person being charged. Although unusual, there are circumstances where someone borrowed a car and committed the reckless act that led to the manslaughter charges and then denied any involvement, leading to charges being mistakenly brought against the vehicle owner. Raising this type of defense is going to be contingent on a very narrow set of facts.

As part of an effective defense, an experienced attorney will work closely with his client and professional resources in order to determine the best strategy to present. This might include negotiating with the prosecutor for a reduction in charges or preparing for trial.

Chicago Attorney David L. Freidberg Fights Hard for Those Accused of Manslaughter

Even when a person had no intent to injure or kill another person, he could find himself facing manslaughter or reckless homicide charges that could lead to a lengthy prison term, as well as many other negative consequences. Manslaughter charges are vigorously pursued by prosecutors throughout Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. It is crucial to have a criminal defense attorney who understands the motivations and tactics of the prosecutor in order to fight against these charges. Attorney David L. Freidberg has spent almost 25 years fighting for the rights of those accused of a crime. He has developed a strong legal team that knows how to tear down a prosecutor’s case. At the Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C., we work with each client individually in order to determine the best plan of attack. Contact the office at (312) 560-7100 or (800) 803-1442 or send an email to in order to schedule a free consultation. We will respond to your inquiry promptly. We are available 24/7 for your convenience.

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