Battery Laws and Penalties in Illinois

Learn how Illinois defines and punishes the crimes of battery and aggravated battery.

By , Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated 9/06/2023

Illinois divides battery crimes into two levels—simple and aggravated battery. Simple battery carries misdemeanor penalties, while aggravated battery is a felony with penalties ranging from a class 3 felony to a class X felony. Below, we review battery crimes, aggravating factors, and the possible penalties for battery in Illinois.

Understanding Battery Charges in Illinois

Battery in Illinois is intentional conduct that causes bodily harm or offensive, physical contact with another person.

What Is Battery?

Acts of battery can include any of the following:

  • shoving, slapping, or hitting someone
  • spitting on someone or throwing bodily fluids on another
  • forcefully grabbing another's arm or pulling hair
  • shooting, stabbing, or strangling someone
  • throwing an object at someone and hitting them, or
  • giving another poison or throwing a caustic substance on another.

Generally speaking, the more violent or harmful the contact is, the greater the penalty will be.

What Is Aggravated Battery?

Similar to assault crimes, Illinois increases battery to aggravated battery based on the following factors:

  • severity of the injuries (such as great bodily harm or permanent disability)
  • location of the battery (such as a school or place of worship)
  • a victim's protected status or occupation (such as an elderly adult or police officer), or
  • use of a firearm, deadly weapon, or caustic substance, and
  • the conduct involved (such as concealing one's identity).

For battery charges to be aggravated based on the victim's protected status (such as age or disability), the defendant must know of the victim's status. The same is true for a victim's protected occupation. The law generally requires that the victim be engaged in their professional duties and that the defendant commits the battery based on those duties.

Definitions Related to Battery Offenses

Whether a battery is a misdemeanor or felony often depends on the level of harm involved and whether a deadly weapon or instrument was used. Here are some key definitions.

Bodily harm. Examples of bodily harm include lacerations, bruises, abrasions, and physical pain (even if not visible).

Great bodily harm. The law doesn't have a precise definition of great bodily harm, other than it amounts to more than the bodily harm described above. Some examples might include deep lacerations requiring stitches, broken bones, permanent scarring from burns, loss of a bodily organ or member, or injuries rendering someone unconscious.

Deadly weapon. The law defines deadly weapons as firearms, stun guns, Tasers, daggers, switchblade knives, axes, stilettos, bludgeons, metal knuckles, sandbags, billies, and other weapons of "like character."

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/12-1, 5/12-3, 5/12-3.05, 5/33A-1 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Battery in Illinois?

Simple battery—with no aggravating factors—is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois. A person convicted of simple battery faces up to one year of jail time and a $2,500 fine.

This crime is often limited to instances where no visible harm resulted (such as in the case of offensive contact) or where the resulting harm is limited to minor pain, cuts, or bruising. However, even these minor injuries can result in aggravated battery charges (as described below) if the conduct occurs against a protected victim or in a protected place.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-55 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Battery in Illinois?

Aggravated battery carries felony charges ranging from a class 3 to class X felony. The harshest penalties for aggravated assault generally involve discharging a firearm or causing great bodily harm to certain victims, such as police officers.

Class 3 Felony Penalties for Aggravated Battery

Class 3 felony penalties are the least severe penalties for aggravated battery. This penalty generally covers battery crimes that involve only one aggravating factor.

One aggravating factor. For instance, a person may face class 3 felony charges for battery if one of the following factors applies:

  • the victim suffered great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement
  • the defendant used a deadly weapon (other than a firearm)
  • the defendant concealed their identity
  • the conduct took place on public property, at a public amusement or sports venue, in a domestic violence shelter, or at a place of worship, or
  • the victim was in a "protected class."

Protected class. Victims who receive extra protection under this section of law include:

  • individuals age 60 or older
  • someone who is pregnant
  • individuals with a physical disability
  • teachers and school employees
  • judges and government employees
  • emergency management workers
  • EMTs, nurses, and emergency medical service personnel
  • transit employees and passengers
  • taxi drivers, utility workers, and merchants and
  • special process servers.

Causing bodily harm to a child younger than 13 or a person with an intellectual disability also falls under this section.

Class 3 felonies carry prison sentences of 2 to 5 years (or 5 to 10 years for an extended term) and fines of up to $25,000.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-40 (2023).)

Class 2 Felony Penalties for Aggravated Battery

Class 2 felony penalties apply when an assault involves specified victims, great bodily harm, or both. A class 2 felony carries a sentence of 3 to 7 years (or 7 to 14 years for an extended term) in prison and a fine of up to $25,000.

Police and similar professions. It's a class 2 felony to batter a police officer, firefighter, correctional employee, community policing volunteer, or private security guard. Throwing bodily fluids at a correctional employee also carries class 2 felony penalties.

Great bodily harm to certain victims. A person also commits a class 2 felony by causing great bodily harm to an individual age 60 or older or a person engaged in a religious activity.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-35 (2023).)

Class 1 Felony Penalties for Aggravated Battery

Class 1 felony penalties apply when a person commits battery resulting in great bodily harm and:

  • the victim was a police officer
  • the defendant tortured or strangled the victim, or
  • the defendant gave the victim drugs.

It's also a class 1 felony to strangle a victim using a dangerous instrument. A second strangulation conviction also falls under this section.

A person convicted of a class 1 felony faces 4 to 15 years (or 15 to 30 years for an extended term) of prison time, plus up to $25,000 in fines.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-30 (2023).)

Class X Felony Penalties for Aggravated Battery

The harshest penalties apply when battery involves discharging a firearm. Most of these class X felonies also come with mandatory minimum sentences.

Mandatory minimums apply when a person shoots and injures a police officer, community police volunteer, firefighter, private security officer, correctional institution employee, emergency management worker, teacher, student, or school employee. Using a machine gun or silencer also carries a mandatory minimum, regardless of who the victim is.

Class X felonies also apply to battery involving:

  • use of a caustic substance, poison, or bomb that results in great bodily harm, permanent or severe disability, or disfigurement, and
  • great bodily harm to a child younger than 13 or a person who suffers from an intellectual disability.

A person convicted of a class X felony faces 6 to 30 years in prison. However, many of the above battery crimes carry extended terms that can mean prison terms of 45 to 60 years.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-25 (2023).)

Talk to a Lawyer

If you face battery or aggravated battery charges, talk to a local criminal defense lawyer. Felony aggravated battery charges carry the possibility of substantial time in prison. While misdemeanor battery might seem minor, a conviction can have long-term effects that impact your future ability to get a job, apartment, or education. Talk to a lawyer as soon as possible.

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