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. The words and conduct must have caused 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 actual 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.)
This article discusses assault with a deadly weapon in Illinois. For a discussion of misdemeanor assault and battery, see Assault and Battery Laws in Illinois. For more information on aggravated assault and battery, see Illinois Aggravated Assault & Battery Laws.
Assault with a deadly weapon is committed with an object that qualifies by law as a deadly weapon (a firearm, knife, or poison). A deadly weapon can also be an object that can be used in a manner that could cause death. A pipe, boots, or a rock, for instance, could be used as a deadly weapon. This crime is a Class A misdemeanor or a Class 3 or 4 felony, depending on the circumstances and the identity of the victim.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-2.)
Assaults with a deadly weapon fall into misdemeanor and felony categories, depending on the incident:
Class A misdemeanor. Assault with a deadly weapon other than a firearm is a Class A misdemeanor.
Class 4 felony. Discharging a firearm in the course of an assault, except from a motor vehicle, is a Class 4 felony.
Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony. Using a firearm (without discharging the weapon) in the commission of an assault is a Class A misdemeanor unless the crime is committed against certain victims, such as a peace officer, corrections officer or employee, certain public workers, and others. In those cases, the crime is a Class 4 felony.
Class 3 felony. Shooting from a motor vehicle is a Class 3 felony.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-2.)
If an assailant commits an assault with a deadly weapon because of the victim’s race, color, gender, sexual orientation, or other personal traits, the assault is a hate crime and can be categorized as a Class 2 or 3 felony.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-7.1.)
Committing a battery with a deadly weapon, including a firearm, is an aggravated battery in Illinois. Battery with a firearm is a Class X felony. Battery with a deadly weapon (other than a firearm) is a Class 3 felony.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)
Penalties increase as the seriousness of the crime increases.
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-55.)
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-40.)
Probation is not permitted. Penalties are:
(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-25.)
The sentence for the Class X felony of battery with a firearm is significantly greater (as high as six to 60 years imprisonment) if the assailant used a machine gun or a gun with a silencer and caused injury to the victim. The sentence also is increased if the victim is a “special” victim identified in the statute, including but not limited to, a peace officer or corrections officer or employee, a firefighter, a teacher, or school employee, and the offender knew of the victim’s status. In some cases, for an enhanced penalty to apply, the offense must have been committed when the special victim was engaged in the performance of his duties, or to prevent the victim from performing his duties, or in retaliation for performing such duties.
If the victim of an aggravated battery was a child or severely mentally handicapped person and the offender used a firearm, discharged a firearm, or discharged a firearm and caused great bodily harm to the victim, the basic sentence for the Class X felony must be increased by 15, 20, or 25 years, respectively.
(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.05.)
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.)
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.
An aggravated assault or battery is a violent crime and a very serious offense. If you are facing one of these charges, you are facing the potential of spending years or even decades in prison. A convicted felon also 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.