The coronavirus pandemic has been prevalent in the United States since mid-March, with cases reaching to more than 5.4 million across the country. Some of the only ways that have been shown to reduce the transmission of the virus have been by implementing social distancing measures and mask mandates in public places. There are currently only 34 states that have issued a state-wide mask mandate, though other states have cities that have issued such guidance or require citizens to wear masks while in stores. In recent weeks, there has been an increasing number of disturbing assault and battery incidents across the country related to employees attempting to enforce their company’s mask-wearing guidelines for patrons. In response to this, Illinois has now made it an aggravated battery charge to assault a retail worker for communicating safety restrictions. 

Violent Incidents Are Becoming More Frequent

Just this past week, there were a number of mishaps that took place at retailers and other establishments across the country between employees and customers over face masks. In one incident, a 17-year-old employee of Sesame Place, a children’s theme park outside of Philadelphia, was punched in the face by a man and a woman after the teen reminded them of the park’s mask policy. Other violent incidents include one in which another 17-year-old working as a hostess at Chili’s was assaulted after she informed a party of 13 that they were unable to be seated together because of social distancing guidelines.

Simple Versus Aggravated Battery Charges

In Illinois, there are two levels of battery charges that you can be charged with: simple and aggravated battery. Simple battery occurs when a person causes “physical contact of a provoking or insulting nature.” However, simple battery is typically only classified and charged as a Class A misdemeanor, meaning a person can only face up to $2,500 in fines and up to one year in prison.

With all of the attacks happening due to mask mandates and public health guidelines, Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker recently signed a law that would allow anyone who assaults an employee for enforcing health and safety guidelines to be charged with aggravated battery. Aggravated battery is typically charged as a felony crime in Illinois with a possible prison sentence of two to five years and up to $25,000 in fines.

Contact a Rolling Meadows, IL Assault and Battery Lawyer 

Being charged with any type of violent crime is a big deal, but when you are charged with aggravated battery, you will likely be facing felony charges. Illinois felony charges come with the possibility of jail time, expensive fines, and other implications, such as being labeled as a felon for the rest of your life. If you are facing assault or battery charges, you should contact a knowledgeable Arlington Heights, IL criminal defense attorney right away. Scott F. Anderson, Attorney at Law, has more than 25 years of experience in the field of criminal law and will do everything in his power to protect your best interests. To schedule a free consultation, call our office today at 847-253-3400.

 

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/illinois-law-condemns-assault-against-retail-workers-over-mask-mandates-2020-8

https://www.cnn.com/2020/08/10/us/assault-workers-mask-law-illinois-trnd/index.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/carlieporterfield/2020/08/15/no-mask-attacks-nationwide-employees-face-violence-for-enforcing-mask-mandates/#1371442e60d6