Assault in Illinois is any intentional conduct that reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Words alone are not an assault in Illinois, but threatening to hit someone, when said in a menacing or angry manner and accompanied by conduct consistent with the threat, is an assault if the words and conduct cause the victim to reasonably believe that he is about to be struck or injured. Threatening to harm someone in the future is not an assault. The threat of harm must cause the victim to fear an immediate attack. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/12-1.)
Battery is insulting or provoking physical contact, such as pushing another person; or intentionally causing bodily harm to another, for example, by hitting someone with an object. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/12-3.)
An assault is an aggravated assault if any of the following describes the incident:
- the offender uses a deadly weapon, including a firearm [link to article on assault and battery with deadly weapon]
- the offender is hooded or robed so as to conceal his identity
- the offender uses an object that is manufactured or designed to look like a real firearm – a toy gun, for instance
- the assault is committed against a “special” victim identified in the statute, including but not limited to a peace officer; correctional office; firefighter; emergency medical personnel; certain public employees, teachers or school employees; an adult age 60 or over; or a physically handicapped individual, if the offender knows of the victim’s status. In some cases, the public-employee victim must have been engaged in the performance of his duties, or was targeted by the offender to prevent performance of the duties, or was assaulted in retaliation for performance of his duties
- the assault occurs in a public place, on a public road or highway, on school property, or in a public facility such as a sports arena or amusement park, or
- the offender operates a motor vehicle in a manner that causes the victim to fear he is about to be struck. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/12-2.)
A battery is an aggravated battery if:
- the assailant knowingly causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or permanent disfigurement to the victim
- the assailant strangles the victim or blocks the nose or mouth
- the battery is committed on a “special” victim identified in the statute, including but not limited to a judge, peace officer, correctional officer, firefighter, emergency medical personnel, certain public employees, a teacher or school employee, an adult aged 60 or over, or a pregnant woman, if the offender knows of the victim’s status and, in some cases, if the victim was engaged in the performance of his duties or was targeted by the offender to prevent performance of the duties or in retaliation for performance of his duties
- the battery is committed against a child under the age of thirteen or a profoundly mentally retarded person and results in bodily harm or great bodily harm
- the battery occurs in a public place, on a public road or highway, on school property, or in a public facility such as a sports arena or amusement park
- the battery is committed with a firearm or a laser device attached to a firearm and the laser light touches the victim
- the battery is committed with a deadly weapon
- the offender wears a mask, hood, or robe to conceal his identity
- the offender provides a controlled substance which the victim consumes and the substance causes great bodily harm to the victim
- the offender causes a victim to digest a harmful or intoxicating substance such as a controlled substance, a narcotic, or a poison, or
- when the assailant is an inmate in a correctional or custodial facility and commits the battery against a facility employee with blood, feces, urine, or other bodily fluid or substance. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/12-3.05.)
Aggravated Battery of Unborn Child
Knowingly causing great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to an unborn child also is an aggravated battery in Illinois. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/12-3.1.) Causing such harm to a fetus or embryo at any stage of a pregnancy is a Class 2 felony. This statute does not apply to abortion or reasonable medical treatment or practices to which the mother has consented.
Great Bodily Harm and Permanent Disability or Disfigurement
Great bodily harm is any harm more severe than minor or slight harm, such as minor bruises, and could include wounds that bleed profusely or require suturing, broken bones,and injuries requiring surgery.
Permanent disability is an injury that leaves a person permanently unable to function in a normal manner. A permanent limp, chronic back pain that limits a person’s activities, and permanent impairment of someone’s ability to speak, write, or perform intellectual or physical tasks are permanent disabilities.
Permanent disfigurement refers to an alteration of the physical body such as a visible scar on someone’s face or other body part, loss of a limb, or a broken bone that alters one’s physical appearance.
Penalties for Aggravated Assault and Battery in Illinois
An aggravated assault can be a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 3 or Class 4 felony, depending on the circumstances and the identity of the victim.
An aggravated assault involving the use of a firearm against certain victims, or the discharge of a firearm usually is categorized as a Class 3 felony.
An aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony except in certain cases in which it can be a Class X, 1, or 2 felony, depending on the circumstances, the weapon involved, and the identity of the victim.
The possible penalties for a Class 3 felony are:
- 2 – 5 years imprisonment (or 5 – 10 years if the court finds aggravating factors)
- mandatory minimum of ten days imprisonment or 300 hours community service if the aggravated assault is committed against a family or household member in the presence of a child
- a fine up to $25,000
- probation for up to thirty months or more, and
- restitution. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/5-4.5-40.)
The possible penalties for a Class 2 felony are:
- 3 – 7 years imprisonment (or 7 – 14 years if the court finds aggravating factors)
- a fine up to $25,000
- probation for up to four years or more, and
- restitution. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/5-4.5-35.)
The possible penalties for a Class 1 felony are:
- 4 - 15 years imprisonment (or 15 - 30 years if the court finds aggravating factors)
- a fine up to $25,000
- probation for up to four years or more, and
- restitution. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/5-4.5-30.)
For a conviction of a Class X felony, probation is not permitted. The possible penalties are:
- 6 - 30 years imprisonment (or 30 - 60 years if the court finds aggravating factors, and 6 – 45 years if the crime involved the use of a caustic, flammable, or poisonous substance or gas, or an explosive and caused great bodily harm or permanent disfigurement or disability)
- a fine up to $25,000, and
- restitution. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/5-4.5-25.)
Probation and Court Supervision
The court can impose probation instead of imprisonment for aggravated assault or battery, or after the defendant has spent some time in custody. For instance, a judge in an aggravated assault or battery case can sentence a defendant to three years in prison and two years on probation.
A person on probation must meet regularly with a probation officer and comply with conditions set by the court, such as no further arrests or convictions, attending counseling or performing community service. If a person violates a condition of probation, he can be arrested and required to serve the remainder or a remaining part of his sentence in jail.
A person convicted of a crime in Illinois can and, in some criminal matters, must, be required to pay restitution, which means reimbursing the victim for any expenses resulting from the crime, such as the cost of medical treatment or counseling or the expense of replacing any property damaged in the commission of the crime. (730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §5/5-5-6.)
Pleas and Pre-Trial Options
If you are facing a charge of aggravated assault or battery in Illinois, an attorney can investigate the case and determine if you were wrongfully charged or there are other reasons why the case should be dismissed before trial. If the charges are not dismissed, an attorney may be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor on your behalf, or prepare a defense and represent you at trial if you believe you have been wrongly accused or if there are no reasonable plea options. Prosecutors often will negotiate and agree to let the defendant plead guilty to a different, less serious crime. Or, the prosecutor may agree to a deferred or lighter sentence, such as probation, in exchange for a plea of guilty to the charge.
The Value of Good Representation
An aggravated battery is considered a violent crime and is a very serious offense. A convicted felon loses the right to vote, hold public office, serve as a juror (for seven years) and carry or own firearms. In certain circumstances, a felony conviction also can result in loss of a professional license. If a felon is convicted later of another crime, his felony record can subject him to a harsher sentence in the new case. A felony conviction for a violent crime also can hurt you when you are looking for a job or applying to rent a house or apartment.
Only someone familiar with the local criminal court system and cases like yours will know how good your chances are for a favorable outcome in court or at the negotiating table. A knowledgeable attorney will take all of this into consideration, assist you in making decisions about your case, and protect your rights.