The worst criminal charges you can face are for murder. If convicted of this crime, you could face a life in prison. Even though Illinois no longer uses the death penalty, the possible punishment for murder convictions can still take your freedom away for the rest of your life. If authorities suspect you of murder, or if police already arrested you, you need the highest quality of defense representation immediately.

At Martin & Kent, L.L.C., our criminal defense attorneys handle all types of criminal cases, including violent felonies and murder. With extensive criminal trial experience, we do not shy away from helping clients facing murder charges. We will immediately begin building the most effective defense strategy possible and ensuring that authorities do not violate your constitutional rights. If you believe you are a murder suspect or you already face murder charges in DuPage County, Cook County, or Kane County, call our office at (630) 474-8000 to discuss your situation for free as soon as possible.


Every murder case is unique, including the circumstances alleged by authorities, the specific charges issued, and the potential penalties for a conviction. In Illinois, there are various degrees of murder, which include:

  • First-degree murder: First-degree murder is the killing of another person that is not lawfully justified. Circumstances can include one or more of the following:
    • The perpetrator intended to cause the death or great bodily harm
    • The perpetrator knew their conduct would cause great bodily harm
    • The killing happened with malice
    • The killing was deliberated and planned
    • The death occurred during the commission of a felony
  • Second-degree murder: The elements of a second-degree murder charge are similar to first-degree murder, in that an unjustified killing occurred and the perpetrator knew their conduct could cause great bodily harm. However, prosecutors may reduce murder charges to second-degree if a defendant can prove one of the following mitigating factors:
    • The perpetrator committed the act when in a state of sudden and intense passion and due to provocation with no premeditated intent.
    • The perpetrator believed there was lawful justification for their conduct (such as self-defense), even though the belief was not reasonable given the circumstances.

There are also a number of charges and offenses related to murder, which include:

  • Attempted murder
  • Involuntary manslaughter
  • Reckless homicide
  • Drug-induced homicide
  • Concealment of a homicidal death

Every case involving any type of murder or related allegations should be in the hands of a highly experienced criminal defense lawyer who understands how to aggressively protect your rights and obtain the best possible outcome in every case.


We cannot understate the severity of the possible murder penalties in Illinois. No matter what degree of murder charges you face, these are the most serious felony charges and come with the possibility of the harshest sentences. Second-degree murder is a Class 1 felony in Illinois, though the maximum prison sentence under the law for second-degree murder is longer than most other Class 1 felonies. First-degree murder is an unclassified offense, and the law considers it to be more serious than a Class X felony, which is the most serious felony classification in Illinois. Some people refer to first-degree murder as a “Class M felony.”

The sentence for a murder conviction in Illinois will depend on the specific circumstances of each case, such as the method of killing and the identity of the victim. For example, the sentence can increase substantially if any aggravating factors existed, which can include the use of a firearm, murder of a police officer or child, and more. The following are some penalties you may face for murder in Illinois:

First-degree murder:

  • Minimum of 20 years in prison
  • Up to 60 years in prison if no aggravating factors are present
  • Up to life in prison if aggravating factors are present

No probation is available in first-degree murder cases, as there is a mandatory minimum prison sentence. In addition, the Illinois Truth in Sentencing law requires that offenders convicted of first-degree murder must serve 100 percent of their prison sentence with no possibility of parole. This means that a first-degree murder conviction requires at the very least 20 years in state prison. If you receive a life sentence, there will be no possibility for an early release, and it truly does mean you will spend the rest of your life behind bars.

Second-degree murder:

  • Four to 20 years in prison if no aggravating factors are present
  • 15 to 30 years in prison if aggravating factors are present
  • The possibility of four years of probation instead of imprisonment in certain cases

Illinois law does permit probation instead of imprisonment for Class 1 felonies, including second-degree murder. The is an important issue because, with the right defense representation, it may be possible to avoid imprisonment altogether.

Even if you do not receive a life sentence or a sentence of decades in prison, a murder conviction will still follow you around for the rest of your life. You can be certain that employers do not want to hire convicted murderers, and landlords do not want to rent housing to them, either. Having a murder conviction on your permanent record can make the rest of your life extremely difficult, so you want a defense attorney who will aggressively fight against your charges.


As former prosecutors, the lawyers of Martin & Kent, L.L.C., know all too well that authorities can make mistakes. Too many innocent people face murder charges, and courts convict many innocent people of murder, sending them to prison for a long time. You need a defense team that has the resources to fully investigate the details of your allegations and knows how to present a strong defense against your murder charges. Some common defense issues in murder cases include:

  • Unreliable eyewitness identification
  • Unreliable DNA evidence
  • Coerced confessions
  • Proving an alibi
  • Self-defense
  • Defense of others

In addition to the above, our attorneys regularly work to get first-degree murder charges reduced to second-degree murder. We can present evidence to prove the killing occurred due to provocation in the heat of passion or other mitigating factors. Prosecutors will often go after the most serious conviction possible, and it is critical to have an attorney who can fight against unnecessarily harsh charges. If a prosecutor asserts that aggravating factors existed, we can challenge this assertion to limit the possible sentence for a conviction.

Another important part of the process is deciding whether to plead guilty or take a case to trial. Our attorneys will advise you of every option and the possible implications of each. If you decide to plead guilty, we will work to negotiate the best possible plea agreement with the prosecutor. If you decide to go to trial, we can zealously argue against wrongful conviction in court. We help you through every stage of the criminal process, no matter what type of charge you face.


If you are facing charges of murder, you need to take immediate action to protect your rights. We can help protect you from overzealous prosecution or exaggerated charges. Whether you have been falsely accused as a result of questionable eyewitness testimony or police coerced you into confessing to murder, we will do everything possible to exonerate you. Many criminal defense attorneys are not properly equipped to handle a murder case, but you can count on our team at Martin & Kent, L.L.C., to effectively represent you. We have 42 years of combined legal experience and have handled more than 10,000 criminal cases as both prosecutors and defense attorneys.

You need to view your murder charges with the utmost seriousness. The outcome of your case will have a dramatic impact on the rest of your life. To ensure your rights remain protected and to take advantage of a free consultation, call our office at (630) 474-8000 right away!