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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

6 things to know about being charged with attempted murder

On Behalf of | May 7, 2022 | Homicide |

The state of Illinois defines attempted murder as an unsuccessful, but deliberate, attempt to kill another person. The language sounds pretty straightforward, but there’s a lot of technical ground to cover and issues to consider before managing a defense against the charge.

To better understand where attempted murder charges can lead, here are a few things you need to keep in mind:

Illinois state legislation

Attempted murder entails taking steps to intentionally take another person’s life. The law states that a defense is unusable if circumstances might have made it impossible to go through with the attempt.


Attempted murder is a Class X felony and the minimum sentence is 20 years. Furthermore, the law can tack on other charges. If your attempt involved a firearm or you broke into a residence, the court may add additional charges to the docket, which could increase prison time. Discharging a weapon or causing bodily harm could result in up to another 25 years in prison.

Other considerations

The most important factors in an attempted murder case are:


The defense can argue there was no intention to kill a person, despite bodily harm or other circumstances that suggest attempted murder. This strategy might lead to a less serious charge or even get the case dismissed entirely.

Premediated planning

The planning or premeditation that went into the crime can impact how the court and jury perceive its severity. A defense team can argue for lesser charges by establishing a disturbed emotional state or enraged feelings. The court may consider circumstances that involve spontaneity or momentary inability to control emotions and actions.

Attempted homicide as a result of severe duress is a viable defense. The train of thought may lead to a lesser charge like attempted manslaughter. Manslaughter is a charge that argues a defendant killed or almost killed a person without malice or forethought.

Awareness of actions that could lead to another person’s death

The law sees awareness in a different light than premeditation. Awareness is having the information you need to make a decision and developing action in response, the implication being that you had the opportunity to stop yourself. The prosecution may argue you could’ve prevented criminal behavior and chose not to.