Assault and battery are serious criminal offenses that can have correspondingly serious consequences. Don't settle when hiring a lawyer. We have 30 years of experience in Illinois courtrooms defending criminal defendants just like you. Call our offices today at (312) 466-9466 to begin working with an experienced Lake County criminal defense attorney.
Assault and battery are technically separate crimes according to the Illinois Criminal Code, but the prosecutors often charge a defendant with both.
What is the difference between assault and battery under Illinois law?
Battery is defined as "intentionally or knowingly, without legal justification, by any means causing bodily harm, or making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature."
Given that the law is written fairly openly, technically physical touching isn't required to press battery charges. For example, one person could throw something at another person, and this could constitute battery if it is done in a certain manner.
Battery is considered "domestic" when the alleged act of violence occurs between two people with a domestic relationship. This could include family or household members, people related by blood or marriage, and boyfriend or girlfriends.
While battery is a very concrete offense, assault is a more abstract criminal charge. If someone commits any type of conduct that makes another person believe that he or she may be in danger of battery, they can be charged with assault. This could mean making verbal threats or acting in a visibly menacing manner. It is possible to face assault charges without battery charges if physical contact never actually occurred.
In 2015, Illinois State Police reported nearly 600 Aggravated Battery/Aggravated Assault cases in Lake County. In addition, more than 1,500 domestic offenses were reported in the year 2015.
Assault and Battery charges are not uncommon in Lake County, so if you find yourself facing charges, it is important to find a criminal defense attorney who has argued this type of case before.
It is difficult to predict how severe a sentence will be based on the charge alone. Sentencing depends on many factors, including the defendant's past criminal history and the discretion of the judge. For example, a first offense will be treated differently than a second offense. Assaulting an elderly person or a handicapped or disabled individual is a more serious crime. A battery or assault case with legal justification, such as self defense, is different from one in which that is clearly not an option as a defense strategy.
You get the idea. Every case is different. But here are the basics of what you need to know about Lake County assault and battery criminal charges.
Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, which has a punishment of 30 days in jail or a $500 fine. However, the State can also bring charges of Aggravated Assault if certain factors are present. If the defendant is a repeat offender, or if the assault was committed against a child or police officer, the charge can be upgraded to Aggravated Assault.
Similarly, the crime of Battery in Illinois it two-tiered. In the most minor cases, Battery is charged as a Class A misdemeanor. Class A misdemeanors are punishable by up to one year of prison time and a fine of $2,500. A judge may also sentence a defendant to probation if the situation warrants it.
However, when there is serious injury involved, the State usually escalates the charge to Aggravated status. Illinois law also requires a charge of Aggravated Battery if the accused used a gun or deadly weapon, or if their actions caused harm to a child or police officer. In this case, a conviction qualifies as a Class 3 felony, which can result in imprisonment of two to five years.
It's important to remember that while Illinois law suggests sentencing guidelines for each of the above offenses, it does not mean that the prosecutor will necessarily be lenient and choose to charge the lowest classification.
Ultimately, the prosecutor has discretion over whether to bring a Class A misdemeanor, Class 3 Felony, or even Class 1 felony against a defendant in a Lake County assault and battery case.
If the person the defendant allegedly harmed was a family member, girlfriend or boyfriend, or spouse, the State may press charges of Domestic Battery. For a crime to be considered domestic, there must be a familial relationship between the two parties, whether by blood or marriage. Additionally, if the two individuals live in the same home currently or in the past, the crime can fall under the umbrella of "domestic."
A Lake County Domestic battery conviction carries a range of sentences depending on the seriousness of the incident. In the mildest situation, domestic battery is a class A misdemeanor which can warrant a sentence of up to 364 days in jail. Mandatory domestic violence training may also be included as a component of the sentence if the judge believes the situation warrants it.
Once again, a more serious offense can result in escalation of the charge to "aggravated" status. For instance, if the incident results in serious injury for the victim, or if the incident was not the defendant's first offense, the State can bring a charge of Aggravated Domestic Battery, which is a Class 2 Felony. In this case, a defendant could be looking at a prison sentence of 3-7 years.
Regardless of whether the domestic battery is considered "aggravated" or not, sentences usually include some of the following common elements. First, a domestic battery conviction usually results in a "no contact" provision that prevents any interaction with the accuser and residence involved. For more information about Lake County Orders of Protection and "No Contact" Orders, visit our article on Lake County Orders of Protection.
Second, the State usually revokes a convicted defendant's Firearm Owner's Identification Card (FOID) and/or their concealed carry permit.
Third and finally, anyone convicted of Domestic Battery in Illinois cannot receive court supervision as a sentence. Court supervision is the only type of sentence that can be removed from a criminal record. In other words, it does not matter whether you are convicted of misdemeanor or felony Domestic Battery -- this type of conviction is permanent on a criminal record.
Lake County assault or battery charges don't need to necessarily result in a conviction. There are several legal defense strategies criminal defendants can harness to fight their battery or assault case. If your Lake County criminal defense lawyer can effectively make these arguments in court, the State may choose to drop the charges or a judge may issue a Not Guilty verdict. In the American criminal justice system, the State's Attorney has the burden of proving the defendant's guilt. It is the responsibility of the prosecutors to demonstrate the defendant's guilt -- not the defendant's responsibility to demonstrate his innocence.
However, the defendant and his lawyer may also choose to pursue an "affirmative defense," which refers to a set of legal arguments that can be made in court that proactively prove the defendant's innocence. For instance, Illinois law allows the defendant to put forth a defense that he or she was defending himself, defending someone else, or even defending property.
If you pursue this legal strategy, your criminal defense lawyer will attempt to prove self-defense in court. To do this, he may use witness testimony, surveillance video of the incident, or physical evidence to strengthen the argument. The legal definition of self-defense requires that the accused person reasonably believed that is was necessary to defend himself from another's imminent use of unlawful force.
The way Illinois law is written, a defendant can still claim self-defense even if he was the one who struck first. However, he must prove that the strike was a reasonable response to another person's threat of violence. If this was the case, the judge or jury may acquit him of battery.
The threat of violence doesn't have to be against the defendant himself in order to use the self-defense strategy. The law also establishes a person's right to defend their property, such as their home or other type of valuable property, against reasonable threat. Self-defense may also be claimed if the defendant used violence to protect a family member, such as protecting a child from an abusive spouse. Once again, there must have been a reasonable threat of violence to the victim in order for a "self-defense" argument to be used in court.
Another common legal strategy against allegations of assault and battery is demonstrating that the victim made up the story. However, to avoid a "he said, she said" predicament, a criminal defense lawyer must prove that the story was fabricated. One way to do this is to demonstrate that the accused person wasn't at the scene of the incident at the time. Another is to establish that the complaining witness had no visible injuries and received no medical treatment. Sometimes it can be shown that a great deal of time passed before the person made a battery complaint. Other times there are eyewitnesses. There are various paths for defendants in Lake County battery cases to battle their charges.
Are you here because you are looking for attorneys for domestic battery cases in Lake County? Have you been charged with assault in Lake County? If so, you've come to the right place.
Aggressive Lake County criminal defense attorneys like Steven R. Hunter strive endlessly to defend clients in Lake County assault and battery cases and apply defense strategies that can earn a Not Guilty verdict or get charges dismissed.
If you have been charged with one of these crimes, it doesn't mean you'll be convicted. Nothing is predetermined in your life. A dismissal of these charges or a supervision program of some sort may be in your future. There are several strategic defense strategies a defendant can utilize, and if executed successfully, it can result in acquittal.
What's the best defense? Can you beat the charges? Which defense strategy you should use? It defends on the unique facts of your case. To decide which defense is right for you, call the Law Office of Steven R. Hunter today for an in-office consultation.
From bond hearing to trial, we are here for you. It all starts with a short phone call. Our number is (312) 466-9466.