In the 1944 comedy, Arsenic and Old Lace, Cary Grant’s character, Mortimer, finds a body in the window seat. It turns out that Mortimer’s elderly aunts have been murdering lonely, old bachelors “to end their suffering” by serving them arsenic-spiked elderberry wine. Mortimer’s brother, Teddy, assists the aunts by burying the bodies in the basement. Teddy and the aunts eventually end up in an asylum.
In real life, however, Teddy (and possibly Mortimer) could be charged with concealment of homicidal death, a Class 3 felony punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison. Furthermore, nothing in that law prevents Teddy from being charged with first or second degree murder or involuntary manslaughter if the facts so warrant.
Under 720 ILCS 5/9-3.4, you commit concealment of homicidal death when you knowingly conceal the death of any other person with knowledge that such other person has died by homicidal means. “Conceal” means that you performed some act to prevent or delay discovery of the murder, but this act must be something more than simply failing to disclose information. The concealment can occur where the body is found, but also where a body is transported from a murder site to delay discovery of the homicide.
If a body is moved out of state, there might be some issue as to which state may prosecute the crime. In People v. McVay, the court stated that Illinois may prosecute the crime if an offense is committed either wholly or partly within the state.
If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Did your actions meet the definition of “conceal” or were you merely refusing to give information? For example, if someone asked you to dump a barrel into a river, did you know what it contained? Did you know a homicide had even occurred?
If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)