Facing Assault Charges After a Quarantine Run to Your IL Sam’s Club?
We’re in tough times. People are scared and hunkering down with as much food and toilet paper as they can. So when stores don’t have the supplies that a person needs to keep their family safe, tensions rise.
If you’ve been shopping at grocery stores lately, you might have noticed police standing around. This is because here in Illinois, squad cars have been called to local Sam’s Clubs to enforce social distancing and control any situations that get out of hand.
These officers haven’t been “just standing around,” either. Video of shoppers during this pandemic resembles Black Friday shopping.
Shoppers who have engaged in fights are highly likely facing assault and battery charges, even when no one was harmed during the scuffle.
If you face these charges yourself, it’s important to know what you’re up against. A simple assault charge may severely limit you, even after this global pandemic is over.
Stay calm, and keep reading…
What Is an Assault and Battery Charge in Illinois?
Most people equate assault charges with bar fights or serious scuffles. In Illinois, however, you don’t have to lay a finger on anyone to be charged with assault. Here’s how Illinois state law defines assault: any action that puts another person in fear of battery.
A simple threat could be considered assault. You don’t have to go through with it. Just putting the thought out there, and putting someone in fear, is enough for the police to make an arrest — and right now, law enforcement isn’t messing around.
If you were to put your hands on someone, you might be charged with battery. Someone commits battery if they cause “bodily harm” to another person. Still, bodily harm isn’t always the standard. Engaging in any sort of “insulting, provocative, or unwanted physical contact” may be considered battery.
Furthermore, when aggravating factors are present (firearms, the victim was a police officer, etc.,) the defendant may face enhanced charges with higher penalties.
Penalties for Assault in Illinois
Penalties for assault and battery depend on the nature of the crime, whether aggravating factors were present, and the criminal history of the defendant.
- Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor in Illinois. Offenders may face up to 30 days in jail and up to $500 in fines.
- A simple battery charge is considered a Class A misdemeanor. Penalties are increased to up to one year in jail and plan on your fine doubling.
- Aggravated assault or battery charges are felony crimes, although in some cases aggravated assault may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
Defense Strategies for Assault Charges in Illinois
Shopping at Sam’s Club or any grocery store over the last few weeks hasn’t been your ordinary trip to stock up, that’s for sure. That won’t be a valid argument in court — that your emotions got the best of you — though.
Not exactly. Illinois’ “crime of passion” laws only apply to really serious crimes like manslaughter or homicide. Telling a judge that you were angry at toilet paper shortages won’t get you a pass.
You can build a defense strategy, however, around self-defense or defense of property. Officers may not be able to understand the full story when they are called in to break up a fight.
While one person may look like the aggressor, they were just defending themselves. A judge may drop your charges (or give you probation) if they believe that you were just trying to protect your family.
When will you have your day in court? The answer isn’t so clear. Reach out to a criminal defense lawyer for information about how Illinois courts are handling lockdown. You may have more time than you think to build a strong defense strategy and avoid a conviction.
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.