What is Assault and Battery in Illinois Criminal Law? A Chicago area defense lawyer explains


Very often, people ask “what is Assault
and Battery in Illinois?” “What does it mean?” “What does Assault or Battery mean
in a criminal setting in an Illinois courtroom?” Join me for a minute, my name is Steve Fagan of the Law firm of Fagan, Fagan & Davis, an Attorney practicing criminal defense in
Illinois. What we’re going to talk about is Assault
and Battery, and the fact of the matter is, there is no such single thing as Assault and
Battery in Illinois, it’s not described that way under the law. There is Battery and
there is Assault, they are two separate crimes. The difference is confusing, so let’s spend
a minute talking about it. First of all, Battery can be described in two basic ways in the
law; the first is the most common, it has to do with causing bodily harm to another.
The legal definition is knowingly, intentionally and without lawful justification, causing
bodily harm to another. “Knowingly or intentionally” – meaning you didn’t do it by accident. “Without
lawful justification” – you didn’t have a legally valid reason to hit that other person.
For instance, is self-defense a lawful justification? It may be what’s called an affirmative defense
in Illinois, which means that you have to prove it, but nonetheless, it may be a lawful
justification. A different way that Battery can be charged
in Illinois is less common, but it happens. It’s called knowingly or intentionally touching
someone in a way that you knew or should have known is insulting or provoking. Now,
there are many different ways that this can happen: the most common is, you’re in an argument
with someone and you poke them in the chest, is that insulting? Probably, is it provoking?
Most of the time, it’s meant to provoke a response. So that’s one way that a battery,
for instance can be charged. A different kind of offense entirely, is Assault.
An Assault doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve touched anyone, as a matter of fact, most
of the time, you didn’t touch anyone. Assault is once again, knowingly or intentionally
placing someone in what’s called reasonable apprehension of receiving a Battery, meaning,
you threaten them in a way that makes it believable that you’re about to hit them, for instance.
In other words, if another person believes you’re about to commit a battery, you’ve
given them a reason to believe that and you knew you were doing that, you might be charged
with assault. Typically, Assault or Battery are both charged
as misdemeanor offenses under Illinois law, nonetheless, they’re very serious because
the type of misdemeanor, is the most serious type of misdemeanor, it’s called a class
A misdemeanor, Punishable to up to 364 days in Jail and up to $2500 in fines, so it has
to be taken seriously. Now, under many circumstances, Assault or Battery can be charged as a Felony,
and there are many possible ways that can happen. In either case, you have to take these
cases very seriously. If you’re facing criminal charges of Assault
or Battery, call us at 847-635-8200, we’d be happy to talk to you. Have a great day,
thanks for joining me.

4 thoughts on “What is Assault and Battery in Illinois Criminal Law? A Chicago area defense lawyer explains

  1. If Illinois criminal assault law is based on the reasonable person concept, then doesn't that make it an ex post facto law? For what I understand, the government has found ways to avoid the ex post facto nature of negligence law IF it's discussed in civil law cases. However, in criminal law, ex post facto laws are not allowed. The reason I consider Illinois assault law ex post facto is because it relies on the reasonable person concept, but that's a subjective thing a defendant can't know unless he/she can know the future of what a jury or judge would say of the reasonable person concept being applied to the assault case. Thus, making the assault law ex post facto. When dismissing the reasonable person element and relying solely on culpability, I can perceive how assault law would not be ex post facto. But that it relies on the reasonable person as determining whether or not a reasonable person would be placed an apprehension of an imminent battery is something that makes the Illinois assault law ex post facto, in my opinion.

  2. Thanks for the comment Dennis. Actually, negligence has nothing to do with criminal assault in Illinois. The mental state required is instead "knowingly and intentionally" placing another in apprehension of receiving a battery.
    Just as an added tip, ex post facto refers to a law that is newly enacted and creates (or is applied to create) criminal liability for an action committed prior to its existence. We hope that answers your question.

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