Comparing Assault and Battery Under Illinois Law

Assault and battery are often confused. Many people consider them the same criminal offense, but they are actually two distinct crimes under state law. The Illinois Criminal Code includes the specific definitions of both assault and battery, but the terminology can be difficult to understand.

If you were arrested on assault and/or battery charges, it is important to reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. The following is some important information about assault and battery crimes in Illinois.

Key Definitions in Illinois’ Criminal Code

You could be arrested for assault if you engage in conduct that places another person in immediate fear of being physically attacked. The conduct can be any act, such as words or a gesture, that makes the victim reasonably believe that he or she will suffer imminent harm. However, you must have the apparent ability to make good on the threat – otherwise the person can not have a “reasonable” belief of getting hurt.

Battery charges may apply if you knowingly cause bodily harm to someone or make physical contact of an offensive nature. Battery does not always have to be violent. The statute includes any conduct that is insulting or provoking to someone else.

The main difference between these offenses is that battery involves physical contact, but assault may not. The threat alone is enough for assault. These crimes are often charged together if the assault (threat) and battery (physical contact) occur simultaneously.

Punishment for Assault and Battery

Simple Assault is a Class C misdemeanor. This means that you face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine of $1,500 for a conviction. The statute does allow a judge to sentence you to community service under certain circumstances. Assault can be a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in jail and a $2500 fine if your actions involve a weapon or you threaten certain types of people, such as a teacher. It can be charged as a felony if you try to run someone down with a car or wear a hood or mask and use a weapon to threaten someone.

Simple Battery is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by the penalties previously discussed. Simple Battery can be upgraded to domestic battery if you commit the offense against a household member, significant other, or any of the other enumerated classes under the domestic violence act. Also, Battery can be a Felony punishable by time in the Illinois State Penitentiary if you cause great bodily harm, strangle another person, use a weapon or commit the crime against someone of a particular class, like a person over 60 or a taxi driver while on duty.

The crimes are separate but often charged together, but since Illinois works on a one act one crime rule, the penalties would likely be imposed concurrently or to be served at the same time. Unless the acts are sufficiently separated by time and intent, they most likely will be charged as one case.

Aggravating Factors

There are aggravated forms of both assault and battery, based upon the location of the offense, status of the victim, use of a firearm, and other factors. The circumstances of the crime determine whether the offense is charged as a misdemeanor or felony. The most serious aggravated battery crime is a Class 1 Felony, for which you could be sentenced to four to15 years in prison.

An Illinois Assault and Battery Lawyer can Help With Your Defense

Assault and battery are specific, distinct crimes, and you should retain qualified legal counsel immediately after being charged with either or both. Always remember that an arrest does not equal a conviction. An attorney will make sure the court hears your evidence. For more information or to schedule a free consultation, please contact Glasgow & Olsson. You can reach our firm by calling 847-577-8700 or visiting our website. Our criminal defense team represents Illinois residents throughout DuPage, McHenry, Cook, and Lake Counties, and we are happy to help.

(image courtesy of David von Diemar)

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