In Illinois, there are numerous laws telling you what you can and can't do. And if you break those laws, you can be charged with a crime. But sometimes those charges can be confusing and you may not be sure what you are actually being charged with.
Take assault and battery, for instance. They are related, and it's very likely that if you are charged with one, you will be charged with the other. But they are still two distinct and separate crimes under Illinois law. So what exactly is the difference between the two?
Assault is when you threaten violence or physical harm towards someone else – you don't have to necessarily make any physical contact with them. Battery, on the other hand, is when you intentionally commit any type of bodily harm or negative physical contact against someone else without their permission or without legal reason.
To make matters even more complicated, you can be charged with simple assault, aggravated assault, simple battery, or aggravated battery under the laws in Illinois. So let's look at these four different charges.
Simple assault is considered a non-index crime against a person, which means it is a less serious offense. The factors that contribute to a simple assault charge are:
- An attack by one person against another person where that person might feel threatened in receiving a battery
- The offender does not use a weapon
- Generally there is no physical contact or physical injury to the victim
Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $500 and up to 30 days in jail.
Simple assault might also include simple stalking, aggravated stalking, or cyberstalking.
Aggravated assault is considered an index crime against a person, which means it is a more serious offense. You have committed aggravated assault when you unlawfully attack another person, use a weapon in a threatening manner, and place someone in reasonable fear of receiving a battery.
Like simple assault, you don't have to have physical contact with the other person or commit actual violence. Aggravated assault can also include:
- Committing assault with a deadly weapon
- Wearing a mask or using something else to conceal who you are
- Assaulting a peace officer or a handicapped or elderly person
- Assaults that take place on public property
Aggravated assault is usually a Class A misdemeanor – the most serious misdemeanor offense – which is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. Sometimes, however, aggravated assault can be a Class 4 felony. You may be charged with a Class 4 felony if your firearm discharged or you assaulted a corrections officer. Class 4 felonies are punishable by a fine up to $25,000 and 1 to 3 years in jail.
Like simple assault, simple battery is considered a non-index crime against a person, or a less serious offense. A person commits simple battery when he intentionally causes bodily harm to someone or makes unwanted, insulting, or provoking physical contact with another person. Simple battery can also include domestic battery, sexual battery, or battery of an unborn child.
So for someone to commit battery, there has to be intent – you can't accidentally batter someone.
Simple battery is a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail.
Aggravated battery is considered an index crime against a person, which means it is a more serious offense. A person commits aggravated battery when they intentionally commit an unlawful attack against someone else using a weapon or when the victim suffers severe bodily injury such as broken bones, serious lacerations, internal injury, loss of teeth, or loss of consciousness.
Aggravated battery can also include:
- Using a deadly weapon or firearm
- Wearing a hood, mask, or something to conceal your identity
- Using an object that looks like a real firearm
- Operating a motor vehicle in a way that causes someone to fear they are going to be hit
- Knowingly recording the assault with the intent to distribute the recording
Aggravated battery is a Class 3 felony punishable by a fine up to $25,000 and 2 to 5 years in prison. An aggravated battery charge can also be elevated to a Class 2, Class 1, or even a Class X felony depending on the severity and nature of the crime.
If you have been charged with assault, battery, or both, contact an experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney who understands the law and will fight to protect your rights and your freedom.