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When It Comes to Criminal Law, Every Word Matters

 Posted on November 16, 2023 in Uncategorized

Grundy County criminal defense lawyer

A few weeks ago, an Illinois lawmaker introduced House Bill 3762. HB 3762 would remove all references to the death penalty and modes of execution from the state’s law books, as the death penalty has been outlawed in Illinois since 2011. When introducing the bill, which has since passed the House, its author observed that “The language we use influences attitudes and behavior” and argued that removing antiquated references within the state’s criminal code could help to influence the direction of the state for the better. This is a point well made, as there is arguably no set of laws that so acutely inspire life-altering consequences due to “mere” word choice as those that govern criminal prosecution and criminal defense.

Why Wording Is So Consequential 

The detailed language of criminal law dictates what charges can be levied against someone accused of a crime. It also impacts the kinds of defenses they can present in response and the types of punishments they will face in the event of a conviction.

Take, for example, the primary Illinois statute that concerns theft. The law uses nearly 200 words to define theft. The definition is broken up into five subsections, with three additional subsections detailing the intent requirement. When a prosecutor files theft charges against an individual, they must prove that every element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

When an attorney seeks to craft a defense strategy to a criminal charge, like theft, on behalf of a client, they generally begin by parsing the word-by-word definition of the charge in question. “Poking holes” in a prosecutor’s case to secure a favorable outcome can come down to whether a single word in the criminal code does – or does not – apply to a defendant’s circumstances in ways alleged by a prosecutor.

Contact a Detail-Oriented Joliet, IL Criminal Defense Lawyer to Learn More 

If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to understand every word of the criminal statute(s) that applies to your case and how those words could impact your unique circumstances. Will County criminal defense lawyer Jack Zaremba can help you To get started, schedule a confidential, no-cost, risk-free case evaluation at The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba, P.C. Call (815) 740-4025 or submit a contact form on our website. 



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