Illinois Assault: Top Myths
If you’ve gotten charged with assault in Illinois, you may be unsure what to do next. No matter the circumstances of your assault charge, it’s vital that you understand what those charges mean.
Many people, for example, don’t understand the difference between assault and battery in Illinois. They also don’t understand the way in which the criminal justice system works in the state since their knowledge may be limited to the things they’ve seen on television and in movies.
To help give you a start, here is what you need to know about assault and battery, including some of the most prevalent myths that will do you no good to believe if you’re facing time behind bars.
Myth No. 1: Assault and Battery Are the Same
It surprises many people to find out that assault and battery are actually two separate crimes in Illinois.
Under the law in our state, a person commits battery if they cause physical harm to someone else or if they touch them in a provoking or insulting way. Punching, kicking, grabbing, or jumping someone would be considered battery. The contact only has to be minimal to meet the legal bar of battery.
Additionally, aggravated battery can get charged if there are other factors involved. For example, a significant injury, the victim being an elderly adult or a minor, the victim being a law enforcement officer, the victim having disabilities, or if a firearm or other weapon gets used in the commission of the crime.
Assault, on the other hand, doesn’t require any physical contact in order for someone to get charged. If you don’t have the authority to put another person in fear of harm coming to them, then the state law considers it assault. The scope of actions included in the assault are actions such as threats made verbally, brandishing a weapon to another, and physically attacking another without causing them injury.
You can also get charged with aggravated assault in Illinois, and many factors that elevate battery also elevate assault to an aggravated charge. Specifically, the victim’s status and the use of a firearm in the commission of the crime can elevate the charges.
Myth No. 2: If It’s Your First Offense, You Won’t Go to Jail
It’s unwise to assume that simply because you have no previous criminal record, you won’t do time behind bars for the crime of assault. The biggest factor in the penalties you face is the level of your assault charge.
In Illinois, simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor. While misdemeanors may not sound serious, they can still send you to jail. A Class C misdemeanor can send you to jail for up to 30 days and fines of as much as $1,500. You may also need to complete up to 120 hours of community service.
If you get charged with aggravated assault, you can face a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction can result in up to 12 months in jail and fines up to $2,500. Also, some aggravated assault cases get charged as Class 4 felonies, which involve a three-year prison sentence and fines of as much as $25,000.
Myth No. 3: You Don’t Really Need a Lawyer to Defend You
Even though you may not view assault as a serious crime, and even if you are facing a misdemeanor, you still need an experienced lawyer on your team. Not only does an attorney understand the law and how the court system works, but they can also work with you to formulate the best defense against the charges.
For example, one of the most common defenses to assault is that it was an act of self-defense. Only a lawyer with years of experience and an understanding of the law can make a legitimate case for self-defense on your behalf. As an affirmative defense – where you are, in effect, admitting to the act – it’s an argument that demands an experienced legal mind.
If you’re facing an assault charge, make sure you have appropriate representation. Don’t delay in getting an attorney to help you on your case since that will give you the best chance to defend yourself in court against these serious charges.
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 handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.