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Illinois Involuntary Manslaughter Laws

The Illinois Criminal Code of 1961 classifies homicide -- the intentional or unintentional killing of a human being -- as an offense directed against the person. Under the statute, homicide occurs in one of two ways: by murder or manslaughter. Murder generally involves an intentional killing, while manslaughter, defined as the unintentional killing of an individual without lawful justification, does not.

Illinois recognizes two degrees of murder and two forms of manslaughter:

In contrast to the crime of first-degree murder, which requires a mental state of intent or knowledge that the accused person's actions create a strong probability of death or serious bodily harm, involuntary manslaughter only requires that a person "recklessly" perform the act(s) causing an individual's death. A person acts "recklessly" when he or she "consciously disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk that circumstances exist or that a result will follow, … and that disregard constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would exercise in the situation."

Illinois Involuntary Manslaughter Laws at a Glance

Additional details about Illinois' involuntary manslaughter laws, including crime classifications and sentences, are listed below.


Illinois Criminal Code, Article 9, Section 9-3

Statutory Definition of Involuntary Manslaughter

One commits the offense when he or she recklessly performs acts, whether lawful or unlawful, which are likely to cause death or great bodily harm, and which do cause the death of an individual.

Involuntary Manslaughter & Reckless Homicide of an Unborn Child

A person commits involuntary manslaughter of an unborn child when he or she recklessly performs lawful or unlawful acts which are likely to cause death or great bodily harm, and do cause the death of an unborn child; reckless homicide of an unborn child occurs when the death is caused by the driving of a motor vehicle.

Aggravating Factors (Enhanced Charge)
  • Offense committed in a school zone
  • 2 or more people are killed during the act
  • Offense committed in a construction zone
  • Offense committed after failing to follow lawful orders from a peace officer
  • Peace officer is killed while performing his or her official duties

*See statute for full list of aggravating factors.

Crime Classifications
  • Involuntary Manslaughter / Reckless Homicide: Class 3 felony
  • Aggravated Involuntary Manslaughter / Reckless Homicide: Class 2 felony
Sentences and Penalties

Class 3 felony: 2-5 yrs. in prison, up to $25,000 fine

Class 2 felony: 3-7 yrs. in prison, up to $25,000 fine, periodic imprisonment of 18 to 30 months, or probation or conditional discharge of up to 4 years; a fine of up to $25,000; and/or restitution.

*See Involuntary Manslaughter Penalties and Sentencing to learn more.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

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Get Legal Help with Your Involuntary Manslaughter Case in Illinois

Even though you had absolutely no plan to take a life, if you're convicted on charges of involuntary manslaughter, you may spend a considerable amount of time in prison. Getting the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney can go a long way toward minimizing that risk. Reach out to a criminal defense attorney if you're facing charges of involuntary manslaughter in Illinois to discuss your case and find out your options moving forward.

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