Illinois Aggravated Assault & Battery Laws

In Illinois, assault 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 person. Illinois courts have long held that physical contact includes deliberately spitting on someone. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.)

This article discusses aggravated assault and battery laws in Illinois. For more information on assault involving a firearm, knife, or other deadly weapon, see Assault & Battery With a Deadly Weapon in Illinois. For a discussion of misdemeanor assault and battery, see Assault and Battery Laws in Illinois.

Aggravated Assault

An assault is an aggravated assault if the offender:

  • uses a deadly weapon, including a firearm
  • is hooded or robed so as to conceal that person's identity
  • uses an object that is manufactured or designed to look like a real firearm
  • operates a motor vehicle in a manner that causes the victim to fear he is about to be struck, or
  • knowingly video or audio records the assault with the intent to disseminate the recording.

In addition, assault is aggravated if it occurs in certain locations (such as places of worship, sports venues, public roads, or public parks), or it's committed against one of the protected victims listed in the law, which include:

  • law enforcement officers, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel (while on duty or in retaliation for performing their duties)
  • teachers and school employees (while on school property)
  • seniors (over age 60) and people with physical disabilities
  • passengers on public transit
  • on-duty transit operators; and
  • on-duty process servers.

However, the perpetrator must have known that the victim belonged to one of the protected categories. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-2.)

Aggravated Battery

Battery can become felony aggravated battery based on the nature of the victim's injury, the location of the crime, the use of a weapon, or other circumstances. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)

Aggravated Battery Based on the Injury

Illinois considers a crime to be aggravated battery if the defendant intentionally strangled or suffocated the victim, or knowingly caused the victim (including a fetus) to suffer great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)

Great bodily harm is any harm more severe than a minor injury like mild bruises; it 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 all permanent disabilities.

Permanent disfigurement refers to an alteration of the physical body such as a visible scar or severe burn on someone’s face or other body part, loss of a limb, or a broken bone that alters one’s physical appearance.

Illinois Makes It a Felony to Attack a Store Worker for Enforcing Rules on Face Masks and Social Distancing

In August 2020, Illinois enacted a law that turns simple battery into aggravated battery when the victim is a retail worker who's enforcing rules on wearing face masks or practicing social distancing in stores during the COVID-19 pandemic. The law applies when employees are relaying the store's health and safety directives or any rules, guidelines, regulations, or recommendations issued by a local, state, or federal public health agency during a disaster or public health emergency. That would include the requirement from the Illinois Department of Public Health to wear face coverings in public when you can’t keep six feet apart from others, such as when shopping in stores, at curbside pickups, or on public transportation. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-3.05.)

Aggravated Battery Based on Victim's Status

As with assault, battery becomes aggravated battery when committed against certain protected victims, as long as the perpetrator knew the victim's status. Many of the protected victims are the same as for aggravated assault, but the aggravated battery statute includes some additional victims, including:

  • pregnant women
  • on-duty nurses
  • retail workers detaining someone for shoplifting, if they're injured in the process; and
  • merchants enforcing public health and safety rules, guidelines, or recommendations issued as part of an emergency or disaster.

    (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)

    Aggravated Battery Based on Use of a Weapon

    If someone fires a gun or uses another deadly weapon while committing battery, the crime is considered aggravated battery. Penalties are more severe under certain circumstances, including when the victim is injured (especially certain categories of victims), or the firearm is a machine gun or has a silencer. (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)

    Aggravated Battery Based on Conduct or Location

    Some other circumstances will turn simple battery into aggravated battery in Illinois, including when the offender:

    • commits the crime in certain locations (similar to those for aggravated assault)
    • wears a hood, mask, or robe to conceal the offender's identity
    • causes great bodily harm by providing the victim with a controlled substance, or induces the victim to take a harmful or intoxicating substance
    • takes a video or audio recording of the crime (video or audio) with the intent to disseminate the recording.

    (720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)

    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.

    Penalties for a Class 3 felony

    • two to five years imprisonment (or five to ten 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, 5/5-4.5-50, 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.2.)

    Penalties for a Class 2 felony

    • three to seven years imprisonment (or seven to 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, 5/5-4.5-50.)

    Penalties for a Class 1 felony

    • four to 15 years imprisonment (or 15 to 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, 5/5-4.5-50.)

    Penalties for a Class X felony

    Probation is not allowed for Class X felony convictions. The possible penalties are:

    • Six to 30 years imprisonment (or 30 to 60 years if the court finds aggravating factors, and six to 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, 5/5-4.5-50.)

    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.

    Restitution

    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, 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.

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