Chicago Prosecutors Begin Rejecting Mutual Combat Charges

Chicago prosecutors have apparently changed policy and are now no longer prosecuting cases in which one individual is killed by another in a mutual combat situation. This not only applies to fistfights, apparently, but also gunfights. Now, the mayor has weighed in and is accusing the State Attorney’s office of potentially causing Chicago to become the wild west. However, it is unclear that any of the state’s attempts to maintain control of the city have resulted in anything else but failure. 

The latest incident comes after one man was killed in an exchange of bullets that was related to gang violence. Prosecutors dismissed charges against all of the individuals involved in the shooting citing “mutual combat” as the reason for dismissing the charges. 

Could Murder Start Looking More Like Battery?

Generally speaking, battery is when someone touches you without your permission. If the battery causes injury, that is aggravated battery. In cases where two individuals are engaged in fisticuffs and one of those individuals wins the fight, both can be charged with disorderly conduct, but battery charges are unlikely since the loser of the fight consented to engage in a street fight in the first place.

Guns and bullets tend to have far more collateral damage than wayward fists. Hence, they are more tightly controlled. While throwing a punch might be charged as disorderly conduct, unlawfully discharging a weapon can be charged as a felony, even if you have a license for the gun. Since the prosecutors do not know who fired the gun, it becomes much more difficult to pin charges on any single individual. However, it is possible to charge all of the combatants with felony murder as they were involved in an active shootout that led to the death of another individual. 

Why is “Mutual Combat” Different?

It will never be clear who fired the first shot, who the aggressors were, and who was defending themselves. That makes a criminal prosecution of any individual for this crime quite difficult. Even if you are a felon in possession of a weapon, you still have a right to use lethal force against an attacker. You can still be charged for unlawful possession of a weapon, but that is it. If the defendants claimed self-defense, the prosecutors would have had a difficult time proving otherwise. 

Meanwhile, the mayor and police maintain that putting the case before a jury is preferable to not pursuing charges. However, there are economic constraints there and prosecutors are tasked with pursuing the cases they have the most confidence in. 

Meanwhile, the belief that Chicago will turn into the Wild West is premature. The evidence, in this case, was not remarkably strong. It remains unclear who the aggressor was. No guns were found in an apartment that was raided shortly after the situation was under control. Juries are very defendant-friendly in Chicago. So there are a lot of factors that the State Attorney has to consider before committing fully to a prosecution.

Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today

If you are facing serious criminal charges in Chicago, chances are, the State Attorney will not dismiss the charges for lack of evidence, but pursue the case on the advice of police. Call David Freidberg today at (312) 560-7100 and we can get ahead of the narrative and begin poking holes in the state’s case.

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