Written by attorney Mitchell Scott Sexner

Reckless homicide in Illinois

There are several types of conduct that can be classified and charged as a reckless homicide in Illinois. We will mostly discuss the offenses that involve some type of vehicle. A reckless homicide is when a person recklessly operates a motor vehicle, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle or watercraft and causes the unintentional death of another. The law also provides that it is reckless homicide when a person unintentionally kills an individual while driving a vehicle and using an incline in the roadway to cause a vehicle to become airborne. Reckless homicide under these circumstances is a Class 3 felony presently punishable by 2-5 years in the penitentiary although probation is available.

There are several instances under the law that can trigger sentencing enhancements in reckless homicide cases. A reckless homicide that is committed in a school zone where children are present and a school crossing guard is performing official duties is presently considered a Class 2 felony and is punishable by 3-14 years in prison. It is further provided that if a reckless homicide occurs in a school zone where children are present and a school crossing guard is performing official duties and a defendant causes the death of 2 or more person from one single incident then that is also a Class 2 felony but punishable by 6-28 years in prison. The same sentencing guidelines apply if a defendant commits a reckless homicide while driving in a construction zone and failing to comply with any lawful order of any authorized traffic official and he/she causes the death of 2 or more persons in a single incident.

Specifically in relation to DUI cases, if a reckless homicide occurs when a person commits a DUI and was involved in a motor vehicle, snowmobile, all-terrain vehicle, or watercraft incident that resulted in the death of another person and said DUI was the proximate cause of the death then this is a Class 2 felony. Under these circumstances, the court must impose a term of imprisonment of 3-14 years and if the violation resulted in 2 or more deaths then the sentencing range is increased to 6-28 years of prison. Under the law, probation is available but only on a limited basis. In these cases, probation is allowed only if the court determines that extraordinary circumstances exist that justify the sentence of probation. The legislature did not define what constitutes “extraordinary circumstances" and so it is left up to the discretion of the court.

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