Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the Facebook live “torture” video. The video, which was broadcast live on Facebook, showed four teenagers beating, gagging, and torturing a teen with mental disabilities. The four were arrested after a neighbor made a noise complaint, and police believe the victim was tied up for four to five hours that day.
Currently, the accused teens are being held in jail without bail. Earlier this month, they pled not guilty to charges that included felony aggravated kidnapping, aggravated unlawful restraint, aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, and a hate crime. Their next court date is March 15.
Why a hate crime? There are two reasons: the victim’s mental capacity and his race. Unlike in most cases of hate crimes, though, the victim here is white and the four teenagers involved in the crime are all black. By itself that wouldn’t be enough to justify labeling it a hate crime, but during the video the teenagers could be heard saying, “F*** Donald Trump” and “F*** white people.”
Charges Will Be More Severe If The Victim Is…
You may have noticed that a lot of the charges listed above have the word “aggravated” in them. This term can refer to many things, but here we’re going to focus on just one: the fact that who the victim is can increase the charges you face.
In other words, offenses based on the status of the victim will elevate a battery charge to an aggravated battery charge. Things like a victim’s mental capacity, race, age, or other status matter a lot when the prosecutor charges you.
Let’s look at a few more examples:
Mentally or Physically Disabled. Another recent example comes from a Palatine center for students with developmental disabilities. Recently, a third teacher from the center was arrested for punching a student in the face with a closed fist. The child in question is only 11 years old, and has also suffered violence from two other teachers.
All three women will face aggravated battery charges. Not only because the victim suffers from developmental disabilities, but also due to the fact that they are under the age of 13.
A Senior or Pregnant Woman. If you harm a person aged 60 or older or a pregnant woman, you will face aggravated charges. In order to be found guilty, however, the prosecution has to prove that you knew the victim held that status. For example, if you did not know a victim was pregnant, you may be able to your charges lowered to simple battery.
Anyone Performing Official Job Duties. Don’t punch a cop. Also, don’t bite a cop. Sadly, this is a lesson that a 20-year-old woman had to learn the hard way earlier this year after a night of drinking.
She got into a fight with her sister, security guards got involved, and later police were involved. When police officers responded to the incident, the woman bit one on the forearm. Currently, she is charged with aggravated battery to a peace officer, aggravated resisting arrest, obstructing a peace officer, battery, and other crimes.
Long story short, if you mess with peace officers, you’ll have multiple charges against you.
Peace officers aren’t the only job that is protected under the law, either. If you are in an altercation with any of the following individuals while they are on duty, you will be charged with aggravated battery:
- Teacher or school employee
- A fireman, private security officer, or correctional institution employee
- A Department of Human Services employee who is supervising sexually dangerous persons
- An employee of the state of Illinois
- A transit employee
- A taxi driver
- A merchant who has legally detained someone for alleged retail theft
- A nurse
Your Spouse, Roommate, or Family Member. While you may not face aggravated battery charges for assault or battery against any of these people, it is important to remember that violence against relatives, roommates, or intimate partners is considered “domestic violence.” There are additional charges and penalties for domestic violence, including restraining orders.
What Happens Next?
If you’ve been charged with aggravated battery, you need to start preparing your defense strategy as soon as possible. Understanding the charges against you is the first step to developing a strong defense. Talk to a Chicago criminal defense lawyer today to learn more about your case and what lies ahead.
Most aggravated battery charges are a class 3 felony. If the altercation involved a peace officer, private security officer, or related occupation, the charge is bumped up to a class 2 felony. If the battery ended in disfigurement or involved a deadly weapon, the charge may go up to a class X felony. For all of these charges, you will face years behind bars.
Don’t accept those consequences without a fight, though. Work with a knowledgeable defense attorney to protect your rights.
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.