Assault & Battery Defense Lawyer in Chicago
If you have been accused of battery, contact Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today to hire our team of criminal defense attorneys.
In Illinois, a battery is the unlawful touching of one person by another. But what kind of touching you might ask? Well really, it means almost any kind of contact, no matter how slight, unless it's with the permission of the other person. Most people think that a battery must cause harm to the other person, hurt them, cause them to bleed, bruise, get a black eye or send them to the hospital. It's true that all of these things are in fact batteries because whenever you hurt another person, then this type of conduct always qualifies as a battery. You don't even have to directly touch the other person. If you touch them while driving a car or throw something that hits them, it's still a battery.
Battery Doesn’t Need to Hurt
But surprising to most people is the fact that a battery doesn't even need to hurt! If you poke someone in the shoulder, spit at them, or bump them on purpose, all of these things are also batteries as long as the other person reasonably felt that the contact was of an insulting nature. Contact that is accidental isn't a battery though. If you step on someone's toe accidentally while waiting in line it's just an accident, even if it hurts. So batteries that hurt as well as batteries that are just insulting are both still batteries. They're equal under the eyes of the law and whether in Chicago, or any other city in Illinois, the crime is a Class A misdemeanor that's presently punishable by up to a year in jail and up to $2500 in fines.
What is Assault?
On the other hand, when a person is placed in "reasonable apprehension" of receiving a battery, that is what is called an assault. So while a battery always involves touching, an assault does not involve being touched. But what does it mean to be in reasonable apprehension? It means that the person must reasonably believe that he or she, or someone else, is about to be touched or harmed. So if someone waives a fist in your face or takes a swing at you even though you're not touched, it's probably an assault. But if someone waives a fist at you from across the street, but does not come at you, there's no real reason to be frightened and it's not likely an assault.
Both battery and assault are misdemeanors that can seriously and permanently affect a person’s life. The attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC have handled thousands of such cases over the years and will work hard to get the charges dismissed or reduced. You can contact us 24 hours a day at (800) 996-4824.
Defenses for Assault & Battery in Chicago
Unless the other person consented to be hurt or unless there's a defense as to why the person committed a battery, a judge will likely find the defendant guilty at trial. So what kind of defenses are there if this happens? In Illinois, if the contact was not an accident, then there really are only a few defenses, including self-defense, defense of others, defense of a dwelling or of other property. Self-defense means that you committed a battery on the other person because that was the only reasonable way for you to avoid being hurt.
You Can’t be the Aggressor
If you were the aggressor and started the fight, it's not self-defense, unless you withdraw from the conflict, and the other person goes after you (the attacker becomes the attacked). If you carry on the fight past the point where it is reasonably necessary, it is no longer self-defense. If you're a grown six foot two man and the other person is a little girl, it's probably not self-defense. If the other person hit you with a snowball and then you hit him with a hammer, it's not self-defense either. Basically, every case is different but in order for it to be self-defense or defense-of-others, then you must show that you were being attacked, or were going to be attacked, in that you had a reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery to you, or to someone else.
There's another type of battery that is even more serious and this is called aggravated battery, which is a felony. In Illinois, there is a long list of things that can make a regular battery offense into an aggravated battery, such as when a person, in committing a battery, causes another person great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, whether with his bare hands, or the use of a substance such as sulfuric acid, gasoline, anthrax powder, radioactive material or explosives. Also, it is aggravated battery to commit a battery upon someone known to be a police officer (including a community police volunteer (like Chicago’s C.A.P. program), fireman, jail employee, private security guard, or DHS employee supervising sexually dangerous or sexually violent persons, and a laundry list of other protected status individuals. It is also aggravated battery to strangle another person. It is also an aggravated battery to commit a battery upon another person while on a public way. But, the most serious aggravated battery is when a person shoots a firearm (especially a machine gun) at a person or persons, causing bodily harm. Those are considered class X felonies, with enhanced penalties for the use of the firearm.
Does Self-Defense Apply to Aggravated Battery?
The laws regarding defense of self, or another, or one’s dwelling or other property, vary from case to case. The laws recognize that, in some circumstances, lethal (meaning deadly) force may be necessary to prevent loss of life, or great bodily harm, to that person or others. When determining whether lethal force was appropriate and necessary, the courts take into account all of the circumstances. As long as a person has a reasonable apprehension that, without the use of lethal force, that death or great bodily harm would happen to himself or another person, then it is self-defense. If someone is at home, and another person is trying to break in, and they are doing it in a loud, disturbing way (kicking the door down as an example), with the intent to commit an assault on the people inside, or any other felony or theft, lethal force is generally allowed, even if the attacker may actually turn out to be unarmed. On the other hand, if someone is trying to break into an unoccupied storage shed, lethal force will not be necessary, and it will not normally be self-defense.
Just like a battery can be aggravated depending upon the circumstances, so can assaults. Aggravated assault occurs when someone, while armed with a dangerous or deadly weapon, commits an assault upon another. It can also happen when unarmed, a person commits an assault upon a protected class of person such as a police officer, correctional officer, fireman, or even an employee of a local government authority. While most aggravated assaults are still misdemeanors, some assaults against certain protected people, and involving the use of firearms, are class 3 or class 4 felonies. So, if you face charges of assault, battery, or the aggravated versions of these offenses, you need lawyers that know how to defend these cases such as those at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC (800) 996-4824.
Chicago is one of the deadliest cities in the nation, with a high number of gun and armed violence cases. The good news is that the number of homicides has recently been dropping by double-digits, thanks to improved technology and more police involvement. Nevertheless, under certain circumstances, it is relatively easy to be charged with armed violence, even if you haven’t been violent, contrary to what the name suggests. Illinois legislation is very specific, and armed violence cases can become very complicated and serious if a defendant has a criminal record or if drug crimes are involved. That’s because even the presence of a dangerous weapon is considered a health and public safety threat.
What are the Elements of Armed Violence?
Under Illinois law, there are three sections that define when a person commits armed violence.
- The first section states armed violence occurs when a person commits a felony while armed with a dangerous weapon. Some felonies that are excluded from this statute are:
- First-degree murder
- Attempted first-degree murder
- Intentional homicide of an unborn child
- Second-degree murder
- Involuntary manslaughter
- Reckless homicide
- Predatory criminal sexual assault of a child
- Aggravated battery of a child that involves great bodily harm
- Home invasion
- A person commits armed violence if he or she discharges a firearm that falls under Category I or Category II weapons while committing a felony that is not included in the list of above-excluded crimes.
- Armed violence is also committed when a person discharges a Category I or Category II firearm that causes serious bodily harm, disability, or death while committing a felony that is not included in the aforementioned exclusions.
What is a Dangerous Weapon?
There are dozens of types of guns and weapons that may dictate an armed violence charge and subsequent punishment. The following are Category I weapons:
- Sawed-off shotgun or rifle
- Semiautomatic firearm
- Machine gun
- Firearms small enough to be concealed on a person
Below are some Category II weapons:
- Stun gun or taser
- Daggers, dirks, switchblades or knives with blades 3 inches or longer
- Ax, throwing stars or hatchet
- Object that project a noxious substance or gas, unless designed just for self-defense and carried by someone 18 or older
The following are Category III weapons:
- Metal Knuckles
- Billy Clubs
All of the weapons listed above are considered inherently dangerous and deadly. One may not possess dangerous weapons such as these under normal circumstances on their persons, in an automobile, in their homes or places of work or business, except as might otherwise be authorized by the law. The Armed Violence Statute doesn’t seek to punish anyone who lawfully possesses a weapon, but it does intend to punish more severely anyone who commits a felony while armed with a dangerous weapon.
Speak to our Experienced Criminal Defense Team
Whether you have been charged with battery, assault or another violent crime, contact the Chicago defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC for more information. We have been helping people charged with serious offenses for over 25 years and have a track record of successful results in Chicago, across Cook, Lake, DuPage, Kane, McHenry, Will counties and elsewhere in Illinois. Call (800) 996-4824 today for free information.