Difference Between Attempted Murder and Assault with a Deadly Weapon

What is Attempted Murder

Murder charges in Illinois can come in the form of Murder in the First Degree, Murder in the Second Degree, Involuntary Manslaughter, or Reckless Homicide. Any crime that has been attempted can earn the perpetrator charges simply for the attempt. State law describes an attempted crime as when someone, “with intent to commit a specific offense…does any act that constitutes a substantial step toward the commission of that offense.” 

For example, attempted murder in the first degree is when an individual takes a “substantial step” toward taking the life of another person. If an individual purchases a gun just days before shooting a former romantic partner, for instance, prosecuting attorneys could show intent to kill by the action of purchasing a firearm. Let’s say, in this example, that the individual with a gun shot the victim in the head or chest, but the victim survived. The conclusion could be drawn, based on the gunshot sites, that the perpetrator was shooting to kill. 

What is Assault with a Deadly Weapon?

To describe the crime of assault with a deadly weapon, we must begin with the crime of assault. Illinois law describes assault as an intentional act that causes someone to fear the possibility of impending violence. A threat of violence said in a menacing or threatening way is a textbook example of assault. Actually striking someone would elevate the charges to battery. 

So, assault with a deadly weapon in Illinois generally means that you had a weapon or other object that could potentially cause death, like a knife or gun, in your possession while making threats of violence against someone. This crime is usually referred to as aggravated assault. 

What’s the Difference between Assault with a Deadly Weapon and Attempted Murder?

As we stated before, physical contact does not need to occur for an assault charge to be brought against someone. Battery, on the other hand, does involve physical contact. The main differentiators between assault or battery with a deadly weapon and attempted murder is the intent of the perpetrator and whether or not he or she took “substantial steps” to murder someone. 


Attempted murder and other crimes committed with a deadly weapon can land you in prison for years and have lifelong ramifications for you and your family. If that deadly weapon is a gun, then the stakes are even higher. You shouldn’t face these charges without an aggressive and experienced criminal defense team fighting for you. Abdallah Law offers free consultations to first-time clients; get in touch with us today so we can get started on your defense.

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