No matter the circumstances, a charge of battery is not one which should be taken lightly. If convicted, your criminal record could be tarnished with either a misdemeanor or a felony. After being charged with battery, it's important to understand the penalties that you could face, as well as the rights that you retain. Dolci & Weiland's criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to providing knowledge and legal assistance to those who face criminal charges.
Elements of a Battery in Illinois
Battery charges are governed by Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/12.3. A person can be charged with battery if he or she "knowingly without legal justification by any means"
- causes bodily harm to an individual, or
- makes physical contact of an insulting nature with an individual.
Thus, in order for a battery to have occurred, actual physical contact must have occurred. It's not enough that a person uses words that are threatening or insults a victim; physical contact is key when it comes to a charge of battery.
Illinois Aggravated Battery
In some circumstances, a charge of battery may be heightened to "aggravated battery." As an aggravated battery charge is based on factors that increase the offense, the penalties for aggravated battery are more severe than an ordinary battery charge. Several circumstances can lead to a charge of aggravated battery.
Injury-Based Aggravated Battery
Several circumstances can lead to an aggravated battery charge due to the injury that a person causes. A person's battery charge may be elevated to that of aggravated battery if, while committing a battery, he or she knowingly does any of the following.
- Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement.
- Causes great harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement by means of a flammable substance, poisonous gas, deadly chemical agent, or bomb.
- Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to an individual whom the person knows is a peace officer, police volunteer, firefighter, security officer, or corrections officer.
- Causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to someone over the age of 60.
- Strangles another person.
Vulnerability-Based Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery charges can also stem from the heightened vulnerability of the victim. A charge for this form of aggravated battery can be earned if a person who is at least 18 years of age causes bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement to a person who
- is under the age of 13, or
- suffers a severe or profound intellectual disability.
With this form of aggravated battery, the harm caused to the victim does not have to be severe or permanent; when it comes to children and disabled individuals, nearly any harm or disability can lead to an aggravated battery charge.
Location-Based Aggravated Battery
The area in which a battery is carried out can also lead to a heightened charge of aggravated battery. Locations which can lead to an aggravated battery charge in Illinois include
- public property;
- public places of accommodation or amusement;
- sports venues; and
- domestic violence shelters.
Status-Based Aggravated Battery
Aggravated battery charges can also stem from the status of the individual who was harmed. Individuals who can trigger an aggravated battery charge include
- a person over the age of 60;
- a person who is pregnant;
- a person with a physical disability;
- a teacher or school employee on school grounds;
- a peace officer, police officer, fireman, or security officer;
- a judge;
- an emergency worker;
- a transit employee or taxi driver;
- a process server;
- a nurse; or
- a merchant who is detaining the person charged for theft.
Weapon-Based Aggravated Battery
An ordinary battery charge can quickly be heightened into that of aggravated battery if a deadly weapon or firearm is used during the commission of the battery. Use of a firearm includes discharging a firearm or machine gun and
- causing injury to another person;
- injuring a police officer, firefighter, emergency worker, or other public workers;
- injuring a student, teacher, or school employee on school grounds,
- using a silencer on the firearm;
Other charges that can lead to a charge of aggravated battery based on the status of the weapon or device used include
- using a deadly weapon during the commission of the battery;
- wearing a hood or mask to conceal identity; or
- recording the offense with the intent to disseminate the recording.
Penalties for Battery in Illinois
Conviction of a simple battery charge is a Class A misdemeanor offense and carries with it a possible punishment of up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.00.
Aggravated battery, depending on the circumstances, can be a Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, or Class X felony offense, and can carry the following potential penalties upon conviction.
- Class X felony: 6 to 30 or more years in prison, depending on the circumstances surrounding the charge.
- Class 1 felony: 4 to 15 years in prison.
- Class 2 felony: 3 to 7 years in prison.
- Class 3 felony: 2 to 5 years in prison.
- Class 4 felony: 1 to 3 years in prison.
Defenses to a Battery Charge
If you have been charged with battery or aggravated battery, your attorney may be able to assert a defense to your charge that can lessen the potential penalties that you can face upon conviction. In some cases, a defense can be so powerful that a prosecutor has no choice but to drop your charges altogether. Potential defenses to a battery charge include
- self-defense, in which you committed the battery in order to protect yourself from perceived harm; and
- defense of others, where you performed the battery to prevent potential harm to another person.
Facing a Battery Charge in Illinois? We're Here to Help
If you are facing a charge of battery in Illinois, the best decision you can make is to seek the help of a competent criminal defense attorney who has experience defending against such a charge. Don't try to fight a battery charge on your own; conviction of such a charge can have a detrimental impact on your life, both immediately after the charge and in the long-term. Felony convictions can follow you for life and affect your ability to obtain a job and find a place to live.
Dolci & Weiland's criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to providing you with the quality representation that you deserve--with our team, you can rest assured that your case is in the hands of attorneys who care about your best interests. To speak with a member of our legal team about your charges, fill out an online case evaluation form or call the office closest to you today; for our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our downtown Chicago location, contact (312) 238-9007.