If everything you know about assault and battery charges comes from watching crime dramas on TV, you may find yourself confused and frustrated if you suddenly find yourself facing charges. You didn’t “assault” anyone. And what does battery even mean? Aren’t they the same thing?
Not so much. One of the first things that often surprises people is that “assault and battery” is actually two separate charges. Then there’s the fact that definitions for each charge vary from state to state. For example, some states say that assault requires laying hands on a person, while others define “assault” as a threat of violence.
To help you understand the charges you’re up against, below we’re going to describe and define the different levels of assault and battery charges in Illinois.
How Our State Defines Assault and Battery Charges
Assault and Aggravated Assault
In Illinois, you do not have to lay a finger on someone to be charged with assault. The law defines assault as any act or conduct that “places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Basically, a threat of physical harm can be considered assault in Illinois.
The crimes is charged as a class C misdemeanor, with penalties that include up to 30 days in jail and up to $1,500 in fines.
Illinois law also states that if the assault is committed in a public place, against certain persons (including a person with a physical disability, a person over the age of 60, or public employees performing his or her official duties), or by using a weapon, the defendant may be charged with “aggravated assault.”
Unless the police are called into a private residence or building, assault charges could quickly become aggravated. And since aggravated assault charges can either be a class A misdemeanor or a class 4 felony, these small differences can mean a much harsher range in sentencing – and even additional consequences after you have served your time.
Battery isn’t a straightforward offense, either. A prosecutor may attempt to prove that you caused physical harm to their client in order to get a conviction, but this does not have to be the case. In fact, the only thing that the prosecutor has to prove is that you made “physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.”
Battery is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois, with penalties that include up to a year in jail.
If the following take place during the battery incident, the charge will be elevated to “aggravated battery:”
- The battery causes serious bodily injury or disfigurement
- The battery causes permanent disability
- The defendant uses a deadly weapon, firearm, or explosive device
- The defendant commits battery against a minor
- The defendant knowingly commits battery against a public employee performing his or her official duties
All aggravated battery charges are felonies. If convicted, you could face up to 10 years in prison and up to $5,000 in fines.
An aggravated assault conviction can put you in jail for up to a year. For an aggravated battery conviction, you may be in prison for a decade. The point being that both of these crimes come with serious, life-changing penalties.
If you want to avoid them, you need to put together a strong defense. Luckily, there are ways to defend these types of charges, including:
- Defending a child or another person
- The victim consented to the physical contact
- Your conduct did not invoke the fear of immediate battery
- The battery was not knowingly committed
Your best bet? Hire an area criminal lawyer with a track record of success in these types of cases. If you need an experienced Chicago criminal lawyer for your upcoming assault or battery trial, get in contact with us today.
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 SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.