It seems that in many ways, the lockdowns due to coronavirus are reducing crime. When it comes to gun violence on the streets of Chicago, though, that’s simply not the case.
According to data collected by the Chicago Police Department, shootings are up across the city when compared to the same time period in 2019. From March 30 to April 5, 2019, there were 28 shootings. The same week in 2020? There were 40.
There’s no doubt this pandemic has been stressful for people economically and socially. Still, it’s important to understand that no matter the challenges you face, gun violence isn’t going to help. In fact, it could lead to criminal charges that could impact the rest of your life.
Aggravated Assault in Illinois
Aggravated assault can lead to serious charges and penalties in the state of Illinois. Assault charges can be upgraded to aggravated assault if:
- A deadly weapon, including a firearm, was used
- The offender concealed their identity with a hood or robe
- The offender used an object that was made to look like a real firearm such as a toy gun
- The offender operates a vehicle in a way that causes the victim to fear they will be struck
An offense can also be charged as aggravated assault in either of these situations:
- It happens in a public space, such as a highway, public road, school property, or in a public facility
- It’s committed against a victim who qualifies as a “special victim” – meaning they’re over age 60, physically handicapped, or a public employee such as a correctional officer, emergency medical responder, or peace officer.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault
In Illinois, aggravated assault can be classed as a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 4 or Class 3 felony. How it is charged depends on the circumstances as well as the identity of the victim.
For example, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony if you fired a gun during an assault but be charged with a Class A misdemeanor if you used a weapon other than a gun during an assault.
Neither Class 3 nor Class 4 felonies require that you actually fire a gun to be charged with the aggravating factor. Simply having one during an assault is all that’s needed.
An assault will be charged as a Class 3 felony in Illinois if a firearm is used in the commission of the crime or the firearm is discharged.
Class 3 Felony Penalties
- Fines up to $25,000
- A period of imprisonment between two and five years, which can be extended up to 10 years if aggravating factors are found
- Mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail or 300 hours of community service if the act was committed against a household or family member in the presence of a minor
- Up to 30 months of probation
- Restitution to the victims
Class 4 Felony Penalties
- A minimum prison sentence of up to 1 year
- Fines up to $25,000
- The penalties for Class A misdemeanor in Illinois include:
- Up to one year in ail
- A conditional discharge or up to two-year probation
- Fines up to $2,500
As mentioned, what you may be charged with when it comes to aggravated assault depends on the particular circumstances of the situation, which is why it’s always a good idea to have an experienced Illinois criminal lawyer on your side if you find yourself facing serious aggravated assault charges.
Resources for Illinois Residents
If you’re struggling in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and need assistance, there are several resources available to both families and individuals in Illinois. Some vital resources for families include:
Many people are struggling to secure work or apply for unemployment benefits. The Illinois Department of Employment Security has the information you may be able to use to help as well as to answer questions about accessibility and eligibility of the programs.
Childcare and Disability Resources
If you must work and still need childcare, you can access resources for emergency childcare. You can also find out more about the mandatory closure of childcare.
When you or someone in your household is disabled, then there are additional resources available to you like tech accessibility, communication assistance, caregiving, housing, and transportation.
If you’re in a situation during the shelter-in-place where you feel unsafe, the Illinois Department of Health and Human Services has a confidential, toll-free hotline to call 24 hours per day, 7 days per week.
Additionally (and equally as important), even if you are a former domestic violence offender, and are reaching your personal limits, reach out for help, too. There are a number of resources in Illinois to get the support you need.
It seems as if COVID-19 is changing society rapidly. We also anticipate things may not return to normal for quite some time.
We understand you may be experiencing extreme stress and duress, but we can assure you an assault charge isn’t going to relieve that. Even if you have made a mistake, reach out! We’ll see what we can do to help.
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.