We’ve all heard the phrase “assault and battery,” as though this were a single offense. So you may be surprised that in Illinois, unlike some states, these are actually two different crimes that can be charged separately. Under Illinois law, battery is either conduct causing bodily harm or insulting, provocative, or unwanted physical contact with another person. Assault, on the other hand, is intentional conduct that causes the fear of imminent violence. So while a battery would generally include actual physical contact or injury, an assault would merely be a real or implied threat of physical harm.
Why does this matter? Because in Illinois, even without laying a finger on someone, just threatening them with words or actions until they feared for their safety is a crime that deserves punishment.
For “simple assault,” a Class C misdemeanor, that penalty is a maximum $500 fine and 30 days in jail, along with community service of up to 120 hours. And if you are pointing a gun or knife in a threatening way at the time, then that can up the ante to “aggravated assault.” This can be charged as either a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a year in prison and a $2,500 fine, or a more serious Class 4 felony, which carries the potential for as much as three years in prison and up to a $25,000 fine. (Plus, with any prior convictions for aggravated assault, the prison term can increase to a maximum of three to six years.)
Battery is considered a more serious offense, with penalties ranging from six months in prison and a maximum $1,000 fine all the way up to 60 years in prison, depending on the severity of the act. But even with a charge of simple assault, a misdemeanor conviction would become part of your permanent criminal record, negatively impacting any future search for a job, house, or apartment. This prior conviction could also lead to a harsher sentence in any future criminal case.
The Most Effective Defense is a Good Offense
With so much at stake, if you are accused of either assault or battery, it is vital to have an experienced criminal defense firm like Hartsfield Law in your corner. Consider the following:
- Assault cases have complex evidentiary requirements, which the prosecution cannot always meet. After a thorough investigation, we often find that their evidence has been collected in violation of your rights, which can result in your case being dismissed even before trial.
- We may also be able to negotiate a plea bargain with the prosecutor, resulting in a lesser sentence for a less serious offense, and often probation rather than jail time for all or part of the sentence.
- Deferred sentencing may also be possible, with court supervision for a specified time. After successfully meeting the court’s conditions, they would dismiss the charges, resulting in a clean record.
- Even if your case went to trial, we would use our extensive experience to mount the most effective defense. Many times an assault case hinges on witness testimony, and witnesses can be discredited, their testimony challenged, and the reasonableness of their fear successfully questioned. This offers a great possibility of exoneration.
Contact a Cook County Assault and Battery Lawyer
Assault and battery are serious criminal charges, with the potential outcome of a prison sentence and significant fines. But with sufficient time to thoroughly investigate and prepare, Hartsfield Law can provide a compelling defense, offering the possibility of alternative sentencing options or even acquittal. So don’t delay. Call a skilled Rolling Meadows assault and battery attorney at 312-345-1700 for a free consultation today.