While any accusation of battery should not be taken lightly in the state of Illinois, charge which has been escalated to that of aggravated battery due to the status of the victim being a peace officer becomes all the more serious. Aggravated battery of a peace officer is a felony charge and can lead to substantial fines and even incarceration. If you have been charged with aggravated battery of a police officer--or any other felony charge in Illinois--the criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland may be able to help.
Elements of Aggravated Battery of a Peace Officer
A peace officer, by definition, is an individual who is responsible for enforcement of the law. Examples of peace officers include police officers, sheriffs, probation officers, and prison guards. The definition of a peace officer is important to a battery charge, as an ordinary charge of battery may be escalated to an aggravated nature if the victim of battery was a peace officer.
Illinois law states that "a person commits aggravated battery when, in committing a battery . . . he or she knowingly . . . causes great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to an individual whom the person knows to be a peace officer . . ." who is performing his or her official duties.
Three key elements exist, then, in a battery charge involving a peace officer. Firstly, the individual must commit a battery in the first place. In legal terms, a person commits a battery when he or she commits a physical act which results in harmful or offensive contact with another individual. This offense differs from that of assault, which simply creates an apprehension or fear in an individual that harm is about to occur to them.
The person must also intend to cause great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to the officer. This is often proven by showing that the individual possessed a weapon which would cause severe harm to an individual if used during the commission of the battery.
Lastly, the person charged must have knowledge that the individual is a peace officer and that the person was attacked because of his or her status as a peace officer. ILCS 5/12-3.05 states that a battery occurs when the peace officer was:
- performing his or her official duties;
- battered to prevent the performance of his or her official duties; or
- battered in retaliation for performing his or her official duties.
In other words, if you were charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, intent is key. You must have meant to cause severe harm to the individual and must have known that the individual was a peace officer.
Penalties for Aggravated Battery of a Peace Officer
Aggravated battery of a peace officer carries a Class 1 felony conviction if you are found guilty of the charge. This conviction carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of four years, and a possibility of imprisonment for as much as 15 years. A person who has been convicted of this charge may also face a fine of up to $25,000.
Potential Defenses to an Aggravated Battery Charge Involving a Peace Officer
If you have been charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, it's important to hire an attorney to help you fight your charge. A seasoned criminal defense attorney may be able to assert a legal defense which could mitigate the penalties that you face upon conviction.
Self-defense is one of the most common defenses to a charge of aggravated battery--in other words, you committed the battery because you feared for your own life, and were simply trying to protect yourself from harm. Your attorney may be able to prove that you acted in self-defense when committing aggravated battery of a peace officer.
No Intention of Inducing Bodily Harm
Another element of aggravated battery is the requirement that a person intends to induce bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement. If you did not intend to cause the amount of harm to the officer that you actually caused, your attorney may be able to argue that you did not possess the intent to commit great bodily harm to the officer.
If you kicked an officer during your arrest, for example, you may have intended nothing more than to get the officer away from you. If the officer fell from the impact of the kick and struck his or her head on the pavement, however, he may have experienced severe injuries as a result of the blow to the head. Your attorney's job would be to prove that you did not intend the harm that you caused.
Did Not Know Status of Officer
Another defense to aggravated battery involving a peace officer can arise if you did not know that the person was a police officer. If you were instigated by a plain-clothed police officer, for example, you may have been charged with aggravated battery based solely on the individual's status as a peace officer.
A defense to a charge of aggravated battery of a peace officer may also arise if the peace officer was not on duty at the time of the battery, even if you knew the person was a peace officer. If you were involved in a fight at a bar, for example, and knew that the person was an officer, but the officer was not on duty at the time of the fight, your attorney may be able to successfully argue your fight had nothing to do with the person's status as a peace officer, and therefore could not have had the requisite intent to commit aggravated battery.
Facing a Charge of Aggravated Battery? We're Here to Help
If you have been arrested and charged with aggravated battery of a peace officer, it's critical to seek legal representation as soon as possible following your charge. The criminal defense attorneys that make up Dolci & Weiland's legal team are dedicated to helping those who face criminal charges receive the representation they need and deserve.
Don't wait until it is too late to retain an attorney to defend against your charge; cases as serious as aggravated battery require a good deal of preparation in order to provide a thorough defense. To speak with a member of our legal team about your charge, fill out an online case evaluation form or contact the office nearest to you today--for our DuPage location, call (630) 261-9098, or for our downtown Chicago office, call (312) 238-9007.