If you have been charged with assault in Illinois, you may not know what steps to take next. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your assault charge, the team of criminal defense attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are here to help protect your interests and obtain fair results. If you have any questions about assault charges in Illinois after reading our page below, contact us in Chicago or DuPage County today.
Elements of Simple Assault and Battery
While the definition of assault may seem rather intuitive, you may be surprised to learn the legal definition of the action. Assault and battery in Illinois are governed by 720 ILCS 5/12-1 of the Illinois Criminal Code. The statute states that "[a] person commits an assault when, without lawful authority, he or she unknowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery."
The code further elaborates to define a battery as an act that an individual carries out "when he or she knowingly without any legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual."
Assault and battery, are two separate offenses but are often used interchangeably. When you think of what constitutes an assault, you might think of someone punching, stabbing, or otherwise attacking another person. However, an assault isn't the physical act of harming an individual. Instead, an assault involves a person's actions which instill fear in an individual that he or she is about to be harmed.
Take, for example, a fight between two patrons at a bar. One patron says or does something to anger the second patron, leading the second patron to cock his fist and say, "now you're going to get it," followed by that person punching the other patron, breaking his nose. Whereas we might initially believe that the punch constituted an assault, this physical act was actually a battery. The assault, in this case, was the threat and cocking of the fist which created a reasonable apprehension of harm in the victim.
Aggravated Assault and Battery
As stated previously, the Illinois criminal code section listed above provides the definition for simple assault and battery. This is not the only form of assault and battery which exists in Illinois, however; a person can also be charged with "aggravated assault" and "aggravated battery."
710 ILCS 5/12-2 of the Illinois Criminal Code states that a person can face a charge of aggravated assault for one of two reasons: the location where the assault was committed, and the status of the victim who faced the assault.
Location-Based Aggravated Assault
In Illinois, "a person commits aggravated assault when he or she commits an assault against an individual who is on or about a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, or a sports venue."
Victim-Based Aggravated Assault
If you have committed an assault, you may also be charged with aggravated assault for performing an action that would otherwise be classified as a simple assault because of the status of the individual you are assaulting. You may be charged with aggravating assault for assaulting:
- A person with a physical disability;
- A person over the age of 60;
- A teacher or school employee on or adjacent to school grounds;
- A park employee on or adjacent to a park;
- A police officer, security officer, or correctional officer while on the job;
- An Illinois state employee or transportation driver;
- A sports official or coach; or
- A process server.
Aggravated Assault Based on Weapon or Other Factors
You may also be charged with aggravated assault if any of the following situations apply to your form of assault:
- Use of a deadly weapon or "any device manufactured and designed to be substantially similar in appearance to a deadly weapon;"
- Discharging a firearm;
- Discharging a firearm from a motor vehicle;
- Wearing a hood, robe, or mask in order to conceal your identity;
- Shining a laser gun sight in the vicinity of the victim;
- Using a firearm against a police officer, fireman, EMS personnel, or other similar officer;
- Driving a car in a manner that makes the victim think you are going to hit him or her; or
- Videotaping or recording the assault with the intent to spread the recording.
If you have been charged with assault in Illinois, the potential punishment that you face depends on the form of assault you were charged with.
If you face a charge of simple assault, which is a Class C misdemeanor, you may face jail time for up to 30 days and/or a fine of up to $1,500.00. In addition to this penalty, a person who is convicted of simple assault can be ordered by the court to perform between 30 and 120 hours of community service if a community service program is available in your area.
In some cases, aggravated assault is a Class A misdemeanor. In Illinois misdemeanor cases, an individual who is convicted can face up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.00. Certain forms of aggravated assault can be categorized as a Class 4 felony. If you are convicted of a Class 4 felony aggravated assault, you could be sentenced to up to 3 years of imprisonment, as well as being fined up to $25,000.00. Previous convictions of aggravated assault can further enhance the penalties that you may receive.
Defenses to Assault
In certain circumstances, you may have a defense to the assault which you are accused of committing. Such a defense could lessen the penalties you face for your charge, or could even result in a dismissal of your case.
The most common defense in an assault case is self-defense; in other words, you committed an assault on a person because you were protecting yourself from that same person committing an assault on you. If you were accused of assaulting someone in a fight, for example, and the other person started the fight, your attorney may be able to prove that the only reason that you assaulted that person was to keep from being assaulted yourself.
Facing an Assault Charge? We're Here to Help
If you are facing a charge of assault in the State of Illinois, you deserve competent representation from a team of criminal defense attorneys who know the ins and outs of Illinois assault laws. The attorneys at Dolci & Weiland are dedicated to providing the representation you deserve in order to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Don't wait until it is too late--to schedule a consultation to speak with an attorney about your case, fill out an online contact form or call the office closest to you today; for our DuPage office, call (630) 261-9098, or for our Chicago office call (312) 238-9007.