What are the differences between Assault & Battery Charges?
He assaulted me! If you watched any crime drama then you’ve seen many victims of a crime, attorneys, police officers, and judges use this term frequently. But in reality, what that person is often referring to is the charge of Battery. In Illinois, there is a distinction between Battery and Assault.
Think of Assault as more of a threat to commit a Battery (Example: I’m going to punch you in the face). Battery is when an individual causes physical harm to another (punching another in the face) or makes insulting or provoking physical contact with another (spitting on someone).
More importantly, Battery and Assault carry two different punishments, Battery is a class A misdemeanor and Assault is a class C misdemeanor. If you have been charged with any of these you better contemplate in hiring an assault & battery lawyer near you.
Battery:(720 ILCS-5/12-3) states that
(a) A person is considered to have committed battery if the knowingly and without any legal justification;
(1) Causes bodily-harm to another individual or (2) makes a physical contact that borders on provocation.
(b) Sentence – Battery is classified as a Class A misdemeanor.
(Source: P.A. 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11.)
To put it simply, if someone causes any bodily harm to you without legal justification, you are a victim of Battery. You are also a victim of Battery if someone makes physical contact with an intent to insult or provoke you.
Bodily harm and provocation are very broad terms. A bar fight can be worthy of a Battery charge. Throwing ink on someone to provoke them is also Battery. The intention of the law is to prevent people from misbehaving.
Bodily harm can be as simple as the victim testifying that he received bruising or swelling due to someone making contact with them. Battery has classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which is the highest class of misdemeanor in Illinois.
Arrests and Prosecution for Battery in Chicago
The police have extensive freedom in Battery charges. For example, in a bar-fight, the police decide the aggressor and the victim. The police decide whom to charge with Battery. Both men and women can be charged with Battery.
Types of Battery Charges
Insulting contact, provocative contact, touching without consent are all covered under Simple Battery. However, depending on the case, these charges are classified as Domestic Battery as well as Heinous Battery, and Aggravated Battery.
With an increase in public attention and scrutiny over domestic violence, domestic Battery is a very serious offense in Illinois. Legislators have cleared and passed laws to punish offenders more severely than before.
Though Domestic Battery is still classified as a Class A offense, punishments and measures are far more stringent. Procurement of Order-Of-Protection has been made easier. Laws now mandate that GPS trackers have to be installed on people who have been ordered to stay away from their spouse/family.
What Constitutes Domestic Battery?
Physical contact and provocative actions against family and household members are Domestic Battery.
Spouses, parents, as well as children, stepchildren, and members of the household, are all included in the law. Physical harm is not necessary for a crime to be classified as Domestic Battery.
Escalation of Domestic Battery to a Felony
If the accused has breached an Order of Protection earlier or has been convicted of Domestic Battery charge before, the crime is escalated to a Class 4 felony. The accused can now be awarded one to three years in jail. Alternatively, probation or conditional discharge can also be considered.
Aggravated Domestic Battery Charge
In case major bodily harm like disfigurement or permanent disability is caused, the charges are escalated further to Aggravated Domestic-Battery which is a Class 2 felony. Strangling the victim automatically converts any case of Domestic Battery to Aggravated Domestic-Battery.
Strangle definition: If the victim’s breathing or blood circulation is intentionally impeded, it is considered as strangling.
Sentence: A Class 2 felony convict can be awarded a prison sentence of 3-7 years. A Class 2 convict has to spend at least 60 continuous days in prison even though Probation is possible.
If this is not the accused’s first conviction for an Aggravated Domestic-Battery charge, probation isn’t an option. Prison time between 3 to 7 years becomes compulsory.
Irrespective of the situation and circumstances, Aggravated Battery is a felony.
Grounds To Classify A Battery Charge As Aggravated Battery
Using a deadly weapon, Battery on a public servant while engaged in their job, causing permanent disability, disfigurement, Battery on a physically handicapped individual, and several similar crimes are charged under Aggravated Battery such as Aggravated Battery to a Police Officer.
Sentence and Fines
Under the 720 ILCS 5/12 4, a convict faces a maximum of 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $10,000.
Heinous Battery is the most serious Battery charge. It is a Class X felony in Illinois. According to 720 ILCS 5/12-4.1, causing permanent damage or disfigurement by using a flammable substance, a bomb, a radioactive substance, or a poisonous gas are all Heinous Battery crimes.
Usually, a Heinous Battery charge is filed if a person is accused of trying to burn the victim or throw acid on the victim. These crimes are just short of murder in Illinois and are usually treated with very little mercy in courts.
Sentence: Minimum of 6 years and a maximum of 30 years in prison.
Defending a Chicago Battery Charge
Irrespective of what caused it, a Battery charge can be very difficult to deal with. Even if the accused is innocent, they bear the burden of proving it in a court of law. If the accused was indeed involved in an altercation, some ways to defend it are:
- Self Defense
- Victim had consented to violence
- Crime not committed knowingly
- Defending children, the elderly, or the general public
While these might seem like easy escape routes, each of the above claims has to be proven beyond suspicion to the members of the jury in a court of law. Video evidence or witness accounts have to be produced and only then, an acquittal is considered.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney
While knowing and understanding Battery charges is important, make sure you hire a good attorney who will represent you effectively and professionally. Being charged with battery is a serious offense that can easily land you sitting in a jail cell. Judges do not take these charges lightly, make sure that you have an aggressive criminal defense attorney in order to help fight your Battery case.