The state of Illinois may impose serious consequences on those convicted of the crime of assault. Many times, assault and battery are used interchangeably, but the two are actually separate offenses. Assault is, in very basic terms, engaging in conduct that puts another in fear of an immediate threat or injury. Physically touching or injuring another person is not required. Since this crime can be committed in the absence of physical harm it is a commonly charged offense in Chicago. The severity of punishments awarded in assault cases hinges on the facts specific to your case.
Without the assistance of a knowledgeable assault lawyer, you may face serious fines and/or jail time. If you or someone you know has been charged with the crime of assault, contact an experienced Chicago assault attorney at the Kostopoulos Law Group, LLC today. We can review the details of your case, investigate the charges against you, and help to develop a legal strategy designed to minimize punishments you may face.
Assault Law in Chicago
In Illinois, you commit an assault when you engage in conduct that places another person in reasonable fear of a battery. For the purposes of the discussion of assault, you must simply understand that a battery is the intentional infliction of bodily harm against another person.
Note, the law does not require you to touch or harm another person to be charged and convicted of assault. Your behavior is enough to constitute the crime of assault, so long as a reasonable person would be fearful. Examples of behavior that would likely trigger this reasonable fear include waving a knife, making a fist, or taking an aggressive and threatening stance in the immediate personal space of another.
In some cases, the behavior that strikes a reasonable fear in another may be so extreme that it is considered aggravated assault. In Illinois, the crime of assault is elevated to an aggravated level when the person uses a deadly weapon or wears a disguise, or targets a certain class of individuals. Crimes that may be charged as aggravated assault in Illinois include:
- Assault against an individual on public property such as an amusement park or sports venue;
- Knowingly committing an assault against a disabled or elderly person;
- Assault against a teacher at or near a school;
- Assault against a police volunteers, private security, or utility workers;
- Assault against correctional officers or Department of Human Services employees;
- Assault with the use of a deadly weapon, or item that is intended to look like a deadly weapon; and
- Assault while wearing a hood, robe, or mask to conceal identity.
Penalties for Assault in Illinois
If you are convicted of the crime of assault in Illinois, the punishment you are awarded may vary depending on the severity of the threat, whether a deadly weapon or disguise was used, and who the threat of imminent harm was against. Depending on these factors, assault can be charged as a misdemeanor or felony offense.
Assault – No Aggravating Factors
In cases were the assault is mild and/or a first offense, it may be charged a Class C misdemeanor. Class C misdemeanors are the least severe classification of crime and are punishable by:
- No more than 30 days in jail;
- Fines of up to $1,500; or
- 30-120 hours of court-mandated community service.
If any aggravating factors are present during the assault, the state may charge the offense as a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by:
- Up to 1 year in jail; and
- Fines of up to $2,500.
Alternatively, if the assault is especially egregious, the state may charge the offense as a felony. Aggravated assault may be charged as a Class 4 Felony, which is punishable by:
- 1-3 years in prison; and/or
- Fines of up to $25,000.
Illinois may extend the maximum term of imprisonment to 3-6 years for defendants who have previously been convicted of the same crime.
Defenses to Assault Charges in Illinois
Even if you are charged with the crime of assault in Illinois it does not mean that the state has a legitimate case against you. Whether an assault occurs is, in many ways, very subjective. Additionally, there are many defenses that are available to you if you have been charged with assault in Chicago. These include:
- Defending yourself or another person from harm;
- Defending your property;
- Lack of reasonable apprehension; or
If you are defending yourself, another person, or your property from injury or harm you are permitted to use reasonable force. When asserting these defenses, you are essentially admitting to the assault, but providing a legal explanation, excuse, or justification for your actions.
A successful assault conviction will require proof that the plaintiff was reasonable in their apprehension and that the apprehension was of an immediate battery. If you are charged with the crime of assault you may be able to argue that one of these two factors – reasonableness and immediacy – were not present. If a reasonable person – an objective person removed from the situation – would not have been fearful of your behavior, you may be able to successfully defeat the charges. Alternatively, if the plaintiff could not have been fearful of an immediate battery you may also be successful in defeating the charges. For example, if you are in a heated discussion with another person and threaten to beat them up at some point in the future, it may be difficult for the state to prove that the plaintiff had a reasonable fear of immediate battery.
Contact An Experienced Chicago Assault Defense Attorney Today
If you have been charged with assault you should seek legal advice immediately. Enlisting the assistance of an experienced and knowledgeable Chicago assault defense attorney could mean the difference between probation and a year in jail. The assault defense lawyers at Kostopoulos Law Group, LLC are dedicated to protecting the rights of clients accused of assault or aggravated assault and fighting the charges against them.
To learn more about your legal rights contact us today for a free, no-commitment consultation. We will review the details of the charges against you, determine if your Constitutional rights have been respected, and develop a legal strategy to minimize any penalties you may face.