Assault & Battery Defense Lawyer in Chicago
Assault & Battery Charges
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 qualify 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.
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.
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, there really are only a few defenses, including self-defense and defense of others. 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.
If you were the aggressor and started the fight, it's not self-defense. If you could have easily walked away and ignored the other person, it's not 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 have been left with no reasonable choice other than violence.
There's another type of battery that is even more serious and this is called Aggravated Battery, which is a felony. In Illinois, there's a long list of things that can make a regular battery more serious including if someone does one of the following: causes a very serious injury, stabs someone, shoots someone, or touches a police officer, senior citizen, handicapped person, pregnant woman, nurse, taxi driver and many other circumstances. Someone who wears a hood or a mask while committing a battery can even be charged with this higher crime of aggravated battery. The list goes on and on.
What is Reasonable Apprehension?
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 mean that the person must reasonable believe that they are about to be touched or harmed. The victim must be genuinely frightened. So if someone waves 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 says that they're going to cast a magic spell on you or run you over while riding their unicorn, there's no reason to be frightened and it's not likely an assault. Just like aggravated batteries, there are also higher crimes called aggravated assaults that involve assaulting someone while using a weapon or assaulting a special category of people like police officers or a fireman.
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