Assault and Battery Laws in Illinois

Assault in Illinois is intentional conduct that reasonably causes a person to feel afraid of impending violence. Advancing on someone with clenched or raised fists is an assault. Words alone are not an assault in Illinois, but threatening to beat 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.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-1.)

Battery in Illinois consists of insulting or provoking physical contact, such as pushing another person, or intentionally causing bodily harm to another, such as hitting and injuring someone with an object. A more unusual example of battery is grabbing and ripping someone's clothing in anger. This is considered a touching because the clothing is an extension of the person.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.)

Simple assault and battery are misdemeanors in Illinois. More serious acts of assault and battery, such as assault with a deadly weapon or a battery that causes serious physical injury to the victim (more than bruising or scrapes), are considered aggravated assault and battery and are felony offenses.

To learn more about these more serious crimes, see Illinois Aggravated Assault & Battery Laws or Assault & Battery with a Deadly Weapon in Illinois.

Battery of an Unborn Child

Knowingly causing harm to an unborn child also is a battery in Illinois. Causing minor harm to a fetus or embryo at any stage of a pregnancy is a Class A misdemeanor. A battery that causes more serious harm to the unborn child is an aggravated battery and a Class 2 felony. This statute does not apply to abortion or reasonable medical treatment or practices to which the mother has consented.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.1.)

Domestic Battery

A simple battery against a family or household member (someone with whom the offender resides) is a misdemeanor battery unless

  • it is the offender's second conviction for this crime, or
  • the offender has a prior conviction for violating a protection order, or for felony domestic violence such as, but not limited to, aggravated battery or stalking against a family or household member.

In these circumstances, the offense is a felony and subject to more severe penalties. For more information on domestic violence in Illinois, see Illinois Domestic Violence Laws.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.2.)

Penalties for Assault in Illinois

A person convicted of an assault is guilty of a Class C misdemeanor and faces the following possible penalties:

  • up to thirty days imprisonment, a fine up to $1500, or both
  • probation up to two years
  • community service for 30 – 120 hours (if no imprisonment imposed), and
  • restitution.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-65.)

Penalties for Battery in Illinois

A simple battery is a Class A misdemeanor and the possible penalties are:

  • up to one year imprisonment, a fine up to $2500, or both
  • probation for up to two years, and
  • restitution.

(730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/5-4.5-55.)

Probation and Court Supervision

The court can impose probation instead of imprisonment for the entire sentence for assault or battery, or after the defendant has spent some time in custody. For instance, a judge in a simple battery case can sentence a defendant to thirty days' imprisonment and one year or more 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.

The Illinois statutes also provide for court supervision, under which the court can defer sentencing for someone convicted of or who has plead guilty to assault or battery. The judge can impose conditions on the defendant for a period of time, such as no further arrests and community service. If the conditions are met, the charges will be dismissed at the end of the sentencing period and the defendant will be able to maintain a clean record.


A person convicted of assault or battery in Illinois can and, in some criminal matters must, be required to pay restitution. This 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 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

A conviction for a misdemeanor becomes part of your permanent criminal record. If you are convicted later of another crime, the court can consider your prior conviction and impose a harsher sentence in the new case. A criminal record—even a misdemeanor conviction, and particularly a conviction for a violent crime—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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