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Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
Former Cook County Felony Prosecutor

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Simple and Aggravated Assault and Battery: the Differences

You’ve been charged with assault and battery. But is that one crime or two?

 

Though often lumped together, assault and battery are two distinct types of criminal offenses in Illinois. The primary distinction between the two crimes is that while battery typically involves bodily harm, assault charges may occur even if you only engage in conduct that places another person in reasonable fear of bodily harm.

 

Below, we’ve explored the similarities and differences between assault and battery crimes, and discussed when these charges may become aggravated.

 

Assault. Under Illinois law, assault is considered to be the act of knowingly or intentionally putting another person in reasonable fear of receiving bodily harm or physical contact of an insulting nature. With assault crimes, no physical contact is necessary. You can be charged with assault for engaging in conduct such as making verbal threats, or raising a hand or fist at another individual.

 

In order to qualify as assault, your verbal threats or conduct must cause the victim reasonable fear of an immediate attack, as opposed to harm at some point in the future. The penalties for an assault conviction in Illinois may include up to 30 days in jail, a fine of up to $1,500, or both. A court may also decide to sentence you with up to two years of probation and between 30 – 120 hours of community service.

 

, Simple and Aggravated Assault and Battery: the Differences

Aggravated assault. In order for your assault charge to be elevated to aggravated assault, your alleged crime must meet all the terms of simple assault, as well as one of the following criteria:

 

  • You threatened the victim with a deadly weapon—which could include a firearm, knife, or motor vehicle
  • You threatened the victim with an object designed to look like a deadly weapon
  • You were hooded, robed, masked, or concealing your identity in some other way
  • You knew that the alleged victim was a peace officer, firefighter, teacher, park district employee, public transportation employee in certain locations, emergency services personnel, department of public aid employee, or other “special victim” as defined by our state
  • The alleged victim was more than 60 years old or handicapped
  • You committed the offense in a public place, such as a school, public road, or sports arena

In Illinois, an aggravated assault may include a prison sentence of up to five years, probation, and fines of up to $25,000, depending on the seriousness of the circumstances.

 

Battery. Under Illinois law, battery may be defined as unlawfully and intentionally causing bodily harm or physical contact of an insulting or provoking manner to another individual. Unlike assault, battery involves actual physical contact, such as hitting, slapping, pushing, or hitting someone with an object. Any type of physical contact—no matter how minimal—could result in a battery charge, even if the alleged victim didn’t suffer pain or injury.

 

, Simple and Aggravated Assault and Battery: the DifferencesAggravated battery. Battery charges may be elevated to aggravated battery charges in a variety of circumstances. Some of the criteria that could elevate your battery charge into aggravated battery territory include:

 

  • You used a deadly weapon to commit battery
  • You were hooded, robed, masked, or concealing your identity in some other way
  • You knew that the alleged victim was a peace officer, firefighter, teacher, park district employee, public transportation employee in certain locations, emergency services personnel, department of public aid employee, or other “special victim” as defined by our state
  • The alleged victim was more than 60 years old or handicapped
  • You committed the offense in a public place, such as a school, public road, or sports arena

The penalties for aggravated battery may include a prison sentence of up to 15 years and fines of up to $25,000.

 

Fighting Back Against an Assault and Battery Charge

 

Whether you are facing simple or aggravated assault or battery, the odds are stacked against you. Illinois law is tough on assault and battery charges, punishing those convicted of these crimes with steep fines and lengthy jail and prison sentences.

 

However, there are several effective defenses to these type of charges, including self-defense, defense of another, or defense of property. If you are facing simple or aggravated assault or battery charges in Illinois, you should contact a top Chicago criminal lawyer immediately.

 

An assault and battery attorney will be able to determine which defense strategy will be the most effective in your unique circumstances, and be able to put this strategy into action in court. With seasoned guidance and aggressive representation from a skilled assault and battery lawyer, you may be able to have the charges against you reduced or dropped, thus avoiding crippling consequences to your freedom and future.

 

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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