Assault and Battery
Two of the most common offenses in Illinois are assault and battery. Most people, including those who work in the criminal justice system, mistakenly interchange or combine the terms to include only one offense. Assault and battery, however, are two separate and distinct offenses, and should not be characterized as just one single offense.
Under the Illinois Criminal Code, “a person commits assault when, without lawful authority, he or she knowingly engages in conduct, which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” 720 ILCS 5/12-1(a). A simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor, which includes a sentencing range of up to 30 days in county jail, two-year’s probation, conditional discharge, or supervision. Like most offenses in Illinois, there can be certain aggravating facts and circumstances involved in a case that would then increase the category of punishment. Aggravating factors include the use of a deadly weapon, whether the victim was part of some particular class, or if the alleged perpetrator was hooded, masked or concealed in some other way at the time of the offense. Depending on what aggravating factors are present, then the penalty can increase to either a Class A misdemeanor (less than one year in county jail) or a Class 3 felony (2 to 5 years in the state penitentiary).
On the other hand, a person commits a battery “if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means [either] causes bodily harm to an individual or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” 720 ILCS 5/12-3(a). A simple battery is a Class A misdemeanor, which may include a sentence of less than one year in county jail, two-year’s probation, conditional discharge or supervision. Aggravating factors, including the use of a deadly weapon, whether the victim was part of some particular class, or if the alleged perpetrator was hooded, masked or concealed in some other way at the time of the offense, can increase the penalty. The category of punishment for an aggravated battery increases to either a Class 3 felony (2 to 5 years in the state penitentiary) or a Class 1 felony (4 to 25 years in the state penitentiary).
It is important to know the distinction between an assault and battery, because the sentencing range for each offense will vary greatly, especially if aggravating factors are present. Additionally, the distinction between each offense can affect whether a finding of guilt results in a conviction that cannot later be expunged (i.e., erased) or sealed (i.e., hidden) from your criminal background. If you or a loved one are facing battery or assault charges, it is important to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who will thoroughly review all of the evidence, identify all potential issues with the State’s case, and devise an aggressive defense strategy to help fight these charges.