Self-defense and defense of others are two arguments that are sometimes used to prove that an individual is not guilty of assault. However, the effectiveness of these defenses depend heavily upon the circumstances of each unique case and the defendant’s ability to show that any reasonable person would have perceived a threat in the same situation and that the only way to stop the threat was by using force. When it is not likely that the defendant will be able to prove this, it may be better for him or her to accept a plea agreement in order to receive alternative sentencing.
Typically, if someone is found guilty in a simple assault case in Illinois, they will face a fine of up to $1,500, up to 30 days imprisonment, and up to two years of probation. It is possible to receive a lesser sentence through a plea agreement, though, which is why pleading guilty can sometimes actually be the best course of action.
Here are a few of the potential options for assault plea agreements in Chicago.
Plea Agreement for a Suspended Sentence
Serving any time in jail—even thirty days—can significantly disrupt your life, so it’s obviously best to avoid a sentence that involves imprisonment if at all possible. In a simple assault case, it is often possible to plead guilty and receive a suspended sentence with no jail time. For example, a judge might sentence a defendant to between 30-120 hours of mandatory community service as well as probation. If you do receive this kind of sentence, it’s important to keep in mind that violating your probation is a crime in and of itself, so you’ll need to comply with all the requirements of your probation in order to avoid facing additional charges.
Pleading Guilty to a Lesser Crime
Depending on the circumstances of the alleged assault, a defendant may be able to plead guilty to a lesser crime, such as disorderly conduct. If the defendant is charged with disorderly conduct, he or she may be ordered to complete between 30 and 120 hours of community service. However, it is important for defendants to work with an experienced assault attorney who can determine if pleading guilty to a lesser crime is actually a better option. For example, pleading guilty to disorderly conduct may not be beneficial in some cases, as assault and disorderly conduct can both be charged as Class C misdemeanors in Illinois.
If you do not have any previous convictions on your criminal record, you may be able to plead guilty to assault and receive a deferred sentence. With deferred sentencing, a defendant must serve a probation period and comply with all additional requirements, such as counseling or community service, outlined by the court. As long as they do not violate their probation, the assault charge will be dropped and they will not have a criminal record. This means that if, for example, a potential employer ran a criminal background check on the individual, they would not see an assault conviction. In many cases, this is the best case scenario for someone charged with assault in Illinois.
Whether you believe that you have been wrongfully charged with assault or you’re worried that there is overwhelming evidence that will lead to your conviction, the best thing you can do is talk to a Chicago defense attorney who has experience with assault cases. Your attorney will be able to help you determine whether it is best to fight the charges or plead guilty in order to receive a suspended or deferred sentence.
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 and drug crimes.