When Can the Police Use Deadly Force Under Illinois’ New Law?

The question of when police officers can use deadly force has been a significant talking point over the last few years. Many state legislators are pushing for criminal justice reform that makes it more difficult for police officers to use deadly force against suspects. Illinois has taken the lead by passing a comprehensive criminal justice reform law that limits the use of force among police officers. We will discuss what has changed below.

The New Law Limits the Use of Force by Police Officers

The new law makes it harder for police officers to use force when making an arrest. The legislature added language regarding when police officers have the legal authority to use force. Now police officers must believe that the force they use is necessary based on the totality of circumstances.

As a result, police officers can only use force when they determine, based on a totality of circumstances, that:

  • The force is necessary to defend the police officer or another person from bodily harm; and
  • The force is necessary to prevent resistance or escape; and
  • The officer “reasonably believes the person to be apprehended cannot be apprehended at a later date; and
  • The officer reasonably believes the person is likely to cause great bodily harm to another”); and
  • The suspect just committed or attempted to commit a forcible felony involving bodily harm or is actively attempting to escape by using a deadly weapon or otherwise indicates that he will endanger human life or inflict great bodily harm unless arrested without delay.

The Use of Deadly Force on Escaping Suspects

The new law also limits the use of deadly force against a suspect. For example, now police officers cannot use deadly force against a suspect because of the danger the suspect poses to himself or herself. However, if the situation satisfies the parameters set forth above, deadly force can be used. Deadly force cannot be used against someone committing a property offense unless deadly forces otherwise authorized, or the suspect is engaged in terrorism.

When can police officers use force to prevent a suspect from escaping the scene of the crime? Under the new criminal justice law, police officers who arrested someone can use force to prevent the suspect from escaping. However, they cannot use deadly force. Police officers can only use deadly force to prevent an escape when the totality of circumstances suggests that deadly force is necessary to prevent bodily harm to another person or an officer.

Contact an Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer Today

At Glasgow & Olsson, our award-winning criminal defense lawyers have a proven track record of success in many high-profile state and federal criminal cases. You can see defense attorney Thomas Glasgow on local Chicago news when he fought to get a former police officer’s conviction vacated. Contact Glasgow & Olsson today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how our legal team can fight for your rights.

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