The use or threat of force can be a criminal offense in Illinois. Threatening someone with violence is assault while committing an act of violence against someone is battery. However, Illinois allows actions that would normally be assault or battery if you were acting in defense of yourself, another person, or your property. The difference between battery and self-defense can be murky and heavily depends on the context. Your belief that you were acting in self-defense may not be enough to prevent an assault or battery charge if your response was unreasonable or excessive.
There are four key components to proving that your actions were in self-defense:
- You must have reasonably believed that you were in imminent danger of harm.
- The threat must be unlawful, such as someone assaulting or committing battery against you.
- You must show that force was necessary in order to protect yourself.
- The force you used must not exceed the threat against you.
These considerations allow you to protect yourself, others, or property against criminal actions without punishment but set strict parameters that may make your actions fall outside of self-defense.
To start, the threat of harm must be immediate and a reasonable belief. For instance, the perpetrator may have made a verbal threat or acted in a way directed towards you that suggested they intended to immediately harm you. If the threat was not immediate, prosecutors could argue that you had the chance to escape or contact the police instead of taking action on your own.
To be justified in using force, you must prove that the other person used or intended to use unlawful force against you. If someone was attempting to commit battery, robbery, or sexual assault, responding with force against that person may be necessary to prevent the violent crime. Force may be unnecessary if the person’s actions were criminal but non-violent.
The force you use against someone should be no greater than the amount of force the person is using against you. This is most relevant when weapons are involved. For instance, drawing or using a gun would be appropriate if the other person is also armed with a deadly weapon. However, it might be considered excessive if the person was not threatening violence that could kill you or cause great bodily harm.
Contact a DuPage County Criminal Defense Lawyer
When you claim self-defense in an assault or battery case, it is important to establish the threat you were facing at the time. A Wheaton, Illinois, criminal defense attorney at Stephen A. Brundage, Attorney at Law, can show that your actions were necessary to protect yourself or others from harm. Call 630-260-9647 to schedule a consultation.