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Aggressive. Experienced.

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Do You Know the Difference Between IL Assault and Battery Charges?

Illinois assault or battery charges are usually punishable by jail time, hefty fines, and/or hours of community service. You’ll also be left with a criminal record of violent crime.

That’s nearly where the similarities between these crimes end…at least in the eyes of Illinois law. Although the consequences for either assault or battery are severe, they are prosecuted differently.

If you are facing assault or battery charges, it’s important to understand the legal distinction between these two offenses so that you know what you’re up against.

So we’ve put together a guide covering the difference between assault and battery, how the laws work, and the consequences you could face if convicted.

Assault and Battery in Illinois: What is the Difference?

Assault and battery are two separate acts — there is no such charge as “assault and battery” in this state.

In short, the crime of battery is defined as causing bodily harm to the victim, while assault is defined as threatening to cause the victim bodily harm or attempting to do so. Let’s dive a bit deeper into each definition.

How Illinois Defines a Battery Crime

A battery crime is committed when the offender causes bodily harm to the victim or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with the victim. For this to be considered a criminal act, the offender must act intentionally or knowingly and without legal justification.

What Illinois Law Says About Simple Assault

An assault occurs when the offender intentionally threatens bodily harm to the victim, including battery, homicide, kidnapping, and sex offenses. An incomplete battery (for example, taking aim at the victim with a weapon) could also be considered assault.

Importantly, you do not need to make physical contact with the victim in order to be charged with assault. In fact, in most cases, the charge of assault is pressed in the absence of any physical contact. All that’s required for the charge of assault to apply is a credible threat of bodily harm.

Illinois Assault Sentencing and Penalties

Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by jail time up to 30 days, a fine up to $1,500 or both. Alternatively, the defendant can be sentenced to 30-120 hours of community service. These penalties increase if the defendant has a prior criminal record of violent crime.

Under the following circumstances, the charge can be elevated to aggravated assault:

  • Use of a firearm or deadly weapon
  • Use of an explosive device
  • The victim was a protected person such as a peace officer or child

Aggravated assault is either a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 Felony, punishable as follows:

  • Class A misdemeanor: Imprisonment for one year and/or a fine of up to $2,500
  • Class 4 felony: Imprisonment for 1-3 years in prison and a fine up to $25,000

Illinois Battery Sentencing and Penalties

Simple battery is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a fine up to $2,500. The charge can be elevated to an aggravated battery under the following circumstances:

  • When the victim suffers severe bodily injury, disfigurement, or permanent disability
  • If the defendant used a firearm, deadly weapon, or explosive during the offense
  • The victim was a protected person such as a peace officer or child

In most cases, aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony, but it can be elevated to a Class 2, Class 1 or Class X felony if one or more aggravating factors are present, or under other circumstances that meet enhanced sentencing guidelines.

Illinois Battery Sentencing and Penalties

The prison terms for aggravated battery are as follows:

  • Class 3 felony: 2-5 years
  • Class 2 felony: 3-7 years
  • Class 1 felony: 5-15 years
  • Class X felony: Up to 30 years

The bottom line is that any and all charges of assault or battery should be taken very seriously, and met with proactive action to fight back and beat the charges against you.


About the Author:

Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.

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