Articles Tagged with Chicago murder attorney

A Cook County inmate was charged with solicitation of murder for hire after allegedly trying to hire a hitman to murder a witness in his upcoming trial on charges of criminal damage to property, telephone harassment, and criminal trespass. The hitman was, in fact, an undercover officer.

Chicago Solicitation of Murder

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A person commits the crime of solicitation of murder if he “commands, encourages, or requests” another person to commit the offense of first degree murder. The defendant allegedly offered to pay the undercover officer $3,000 – $4,000 to have the witness killed.

A solicitation charge means that the underlying crime was never committed. Instead, the defendant was merely making the first step toward committing it. So determining whether the solicitation actually took place requires a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the commission of the alleged crime. Questions to be asked when crafting a defense to a charge of solicitation of murder include:

  • Whether the ‘hitman’ initiated the subject of solicitation with the defendant. If the hitman initiated the conversation, it would show that the defendant never considered the idea of murdering the witness until he was approached.
  • Whether conversations about the ‘hit’ were conducted in a public or private setting. If the conversations were in public, it makes it more likely that the defendant had no intention of following through, because there would be plenty of witnesses to his actions. Instead, he may have been engaging in talk to make himself look tough in jail, or wishful thinking.
  • Whether the defendant had the means or ability to pay the hitman. If he did not, it would tend to show that he once again was just fantasizing and did not intend for the hit to take place.
  • Whether the defendant ever said, “I want you to kill this witness.” Anything less than a specific statement of intent, such as, “It would really help my case if he died” or “God, I wish he were dead so he couldn’t testify!”, could be interpreted to be a case of wishful thinking.
  • Whether the defendant ever specifically requested that the witness be killed, or whether he expressed a general desire for him to “be taken care of.” This type of statement could be interpreted to mean that the defendant simply wanted someone to scare the witness out of testifying.

Chicago Entrapment Defense

In these types of cases, it may also be possible for the defendant to successfully argue that the police entrapped him. Entrapment is an affirmative defense, which means that the burden is on the defendant to prove that he was entrapped.

A defendant is not guilty of the charged offense if he can prove that his conduct was “incited or induced by a public officer or employee…for the purpose of obtaining evidence for the prosecution of that person.”

Proving entrapment requires more than simply providing evidence that the officer provided the defendant an opportunity to commit the crime. Courts assume that most citizens will be able to resist the temptation to break the law. Instead, entrapment requires that the officer engaged in such egregious behavior that a normal, law-abiding citizen would be enticed to commit the underlying crime.

For example, in a case such as this, it would not be enough for the defendant to prove that the officer approached him and brought up killing the witness. It may be enough, however, if the officer continually approached the defendant, despite repeated statements that he did not want the witness killed. This would show that the defendant was initially unwilling to break the law, but caved after police badgering.  Continue reading

Everybody knows a defendant can invoke a claim of self-defense to defend against charges of murder, manslaughter, or other violent crimes that result in injury or death to another person. What you may not know is that a claim of imperfect self-defense can reduce a murder charge from first-degree to second-degree.

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Under Illinois law, a homicide qualifies as second-degree murder if the defendant can show he acted under a sudden and intense passion due to provocation by the victim, or he actually, but unreasonably, believed he was acting in self-defense. This is know as imperfect self-defense. Imperfect self-defense is an affirmative defense, which means the defendant carries the burden of proof. If the defendant can successfully prove one of those factors existed at the commission of the crime, then the jury may find the defendant guilty of second-degree murder, rather than first-degree murder.

A defendant cannot be charged with attempted second-degree murder; he can only be found guilty of second-degree murder by proving the existence of one of the two mitigating factors. A charge of second-degree murder includes all of the elements of first degree murder: the defendant must have intentionally planned to kill the victim, or he knew there was a strong probability his actions would result in causing the victim great bodily harm or death. It is then up to the defendant to convince the jury he was either in a blind rage due to the victim’s actions (also known as the “heat of passion” defense), or he believed, however unreasonably, that his life was in jeopardy.

Here is one example of how imperfect self-defense would apply. An individual suffering from a mental illness that causes paranoia or delusions may plead imperfect self-defense if he actually, though unreasonably, believed the victim was about to cause him great bodily harm or death. In that case, the defendant believed his use of force against the victim was justified, even if, from an objective viewpoint, it was not.

Imperfect self-defense may also arise in cases of murder that occurred in the heat of passion. For example, a wife who walks in on her husband and his lover flies into a rage, grabs a gun in her nightstand drawer, and shoots them both dead. The wife knew her actions were likely to cause the death of her husband and his lover (she may even have intended it), but she was in such a blind rage due to his betrayal that she could not control herself. In this case, the defense could argue the charge be reduced to second-degree murder.  Continue reading