You may think you understand assault in Illinois, but you may not fully grasp what kinds of actions can result in assault charges in our state.
For example, a 22-year-old was recently charged with aggravated assault for pointing a gun at someone he was having a disagreement with. He didn’t fire it, and he didn’t attack, but the simple act of pointing it at the other person was enough for him to be charged.
If that surprises you, then it’s crucial to understand what constitutes assault in this state. Here’s what you need to know about assault charges in Illinois and how you can work with your attorney to help fight against them.
What Is Assault in Illinois?
According to the law in Illinois, assault is perpetrated when you threaten battery or physical harm to another person that puts them in fear of injury or harm. Charges can be upped to aggravated assault if you threaten to use, use, or even simply brandish a firearm or weapon to threaten another person — like what happened in the above story. Aggravated assault can also be charged if the alleged victim is in a special class, such as an elderly person or public service employee.
Assault in Illinois can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony — it depends on how severe and serious the incident was and the specific facts surrounding the case. What surprises many people is that in our state, you don’t need to even touch another person in order to be charged with assault – it’s all about instilling fear in that person that they could be hurt.
Penalties for Assault in Illinois
If you are charged with assault, you can face a Class C misdemeanor. If convicted, you can face up to one month in jail and fines of up to $1,500. You may also be sentenced to complete community service of up to 120 hours.
Aggravated assault in Illinois is a Class A misdemeanor charge or a Class 4 felony charge. As mentioned, what you are charged with depends on the circumstances surrounding your particular case, such as the discharge of a weapon. Felony aggravated assault can result in up to three years in prison and fines up to $25,000. Misdemeanor aggravated assault can result in up to one year in prison and fines of up to $2,500.
Defenses Against Assault Charges in Illinois
If you’re being charged with assault or aggravated assault, it’s important to remember that just because you’re accused doesn’t mean you’re guilty. You need an attorney to help defend you in court.
Some of the most common defenses against assault charges include:
If you were threatened with violence or force was used against you, then you may be able to claim that your actions were self-defense. If at any point during the incident you felt as if your personal safety or the personal safety of someone else was at risk, then it’s potentially viable to mount a defense that you were simply trying to protect yourself or others.
Consent and Intent
If the party you are being charged with threatening consented to the contact that resulted in the charges, or if there was no intent to injure, you may be able to use this defense to prove your innocence in court. Let your attorney guide you on what the correct course of action is.
Assault is a serious charge that can result in stiff penalties. Understand your rights under the law so you can come out on top.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases, and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.