While any criminal charge should be taken seriously, an aggravated assault charge should be addressed quickly and carefully. In certain circumstances, aggravated assault can be a Class 4 felony, which can lead to years in prison. Dolci & Weiland's team of criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to helping those charged with aggravated assault defend against the conviction they are facing.
Elements of Aggravated Assault in Illinois
A criminal assault occurs when a person engages in conduct that places another individual in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery--a bodily harm or offensive physical contact. Aggravated assault, in contrast, is an elevated form of assault which occurs when an additional element is present. In Illinois, cases of aggravated assault are governed by 710 ILCS 5/12.2 and breaks aggravated assault elements into three categories.
Offense Based on Location of Conduct
The location of the alleged assault can result in a charge of aggravated assault rather than misdemeanor assault. An ordinary assault charge can be elevated to that of aggravated assault if the conduct for which you were charged occurred in a public way, on public property, in a public place of amusement, or at a sports venue. An assault can be elevated to an aggravated status, then, if the assault took place at a location like a public park, football stadium, or state fair.
Offense Based on Status of Victim
Assault charges can also rise to aggravated assault based on the person whom you were accused of assaulting. Individuals who can trigger an aggravated assault charge include:
- A person with a physical disability;
- A person over the age of 60;
- A teacher or school employee while on school grounds;
- A park employee while on park grounds;
- A community police volunteer, private security guard, or utility worker while performing his or her official duties;
- A peace officer, firefighter, or EMS worker while performing his or her job;
- A correctional officer or probation officer on the job;
- A correctional employee or juvenile detention center employee performing his or her official duties;
- A state employee;
- A transit employee or transit passenger;
- A sports official or coach; or
- A process server who is serving process upon an individual.
Offense Based on Use of Firearm, Device, or Motor Vehicle
Based upon this category, an assault charge may be elevated to an aggravated assault charge if, while committing an assault, a person:
- Uses a deadly weapon or air rifle;
- Discharges a firearm;
- Discharges a firearm from a vehicle;
- Aims a laser sight on a firearm on or near a person;
- Wears a hood, robe, or mask to conceal his or her identity;
- Uses a firearm against one of the above-referenced status-based individuals; or
- Drives a vehicle in a manner which gives a person reason to believe he or she would be hit by the vehicle.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Illinois
Many cases of aggravated assault are considered Class A misdemeanor penalties, and carry the possibility of a fine of up to $2,500 and up to a year in a local jail. Depending on the category of aggravated assault that your incident falls under, however, you may face a Class 4 felony conviction, which carries a minimum prison term of one year, and a maximum term of three years.
Possible Defenses to Aggravated Assault Charges
When facing a charge of aggravated assault, it's critical to seek the help of an attorney to defend against your charge. A seasoned criminal defense attorney with experience defending against aggravated assault charges may be able to introduce a legal defense in your argument. A successful defense can lessen the severity of the penalty that you may face upon conviction or, in some cases, result in your charges being dropped altogether. Common defenses to an aggravated assault charge include:
Sometimes, you may have had no choice but to commit an aggravated assault against someone because you were trying to protect yourself. Self-defense comes into play when the person who is accused of aggravated assault was simply trying to keep from being attacked by the "victim" of the charge. If you are tailgating at a football game, for example, and a fan of the rival team attempts to assault you, you may fight back yourself in order to keep from being injured. In such a case, your attorney may be able to assert self-defense, proving that your actions resulted from a reasonable fear that you were about to be assaulted yourself.
Defense of Others
Similar to a self-defense assertion, you may be able to assert the defense of others if you assaulted a person to protect someone else from being attacked by that person. In this case, the "victim" of the assault would actually have been an instigator in another assault if you had not stepped in and taken action on your own.
For example, if you see two people in an argument and see one of the individuals about to swing a fist to punch the other person, you may be accused of assault if you step in and grab the aggressor's arm to stop the person from attacking the other individual. Claiming a defense of others would provide an explanation for your actions, and could be an affirmative defense to any assault charges.
Sometimes, those who face an aggravated assault charge do so simply because they resemble an attacker or were in the wrong place at the wrong time. If a fight broke out outside of a nightclub, for example, and you were one of the only individuals found at the scene of the crime, you may have been arrested even if you had nothing to do with the fight and were completely innocent.
Facing a Charge of Aggravated Assault? Don't Wait--We Can Help
If you are facing a charge of aggravated assault in the state of Illinois, it's important to act quickly and seek representation from a competent criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after your arrest. The attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are dedicated to providing quality service and working to achieve as positive of an outcome as possible. To speak with a member of our legal team about your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact the office closest to you today--for our DuPage location, contact (630) 261-9098, or for our downtown Chicago office, call (312) 238-9007.