What is 'attempted' murder?

Murder is just about the most serious criminal charge anybody can face -- and attempted murder is treated no more lightly. If you're convicted of attempted first degree murder, for example, that's a Class X felony that carries a minimum 20-year sentence (with an additional 15 years tacked on if a firearm was used).

What exactly equals an "attempt" to kill someone? Under the law in this state, it's any kind of action that is "a substantial step toward" actual murder combined with the intent to follow through. Unless both of those items are true, you may not be guilty of attempted murder.

For example, maybe you bought a gun and bought some bullets because you were thinking about shooting someone -- but then you came to your senses. It would be unfair for anyone to call your actions a "substantial step" toward murder because you never threatened the person with a gun. On the other hand, if you fired directly at their head and only missed by sheer luck, you could be facing attempted murder charges.

Similarly, maybe you were scared of someone, you brandished your weapon, purposefully fired at the ground and accidentally hit them in the foot. It wouldn't be right to characterize your actions as attempted murder since you weren't trying to hit them, but that's not how the police and prosecution may see it.

If you're facing serious charges like attempted murder -- with or without a firearm -- it's important to understand that your entire future is at stake. Make sure that you have an experienced defense attorney on your side.

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