Defending Against Assault Charges – Illinois Criminal Defense Attorneys
If a person is charged with assault in the State of Illinois, there are a range of possible penalties, including a fine or significant prion time depending on whether the charges are for simple or aggravated assault. There are a number of factors that are considered, including whether or not the alleged perpetrator had a deadly weapon or something that could be perceived as a deadly weapon. A charge of simple assault may result in a fine of not more than $500.00 and/or up to thirty (30) days in jail. Felony charges would mean a much larger fine and time spent in prison. If you are facing assault charges, it is important to enlist the assistance of a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Cases such as this have complex evidentiary requirements and beginning an independent investigation while facts are still at the forefront of witnesses’ minds will be important. A criminal defense attorney who will zealously work to protect your rights and your freedom is critical.Aggressively Defending Against Assault Charges
David L. Freidberg is a Chicago-based criminal defense attorney who has spent more than seventeen years honing his skills as an advocate for those facing a loss of freedom as a result of legal charges. During the time he has practiced law, Mr. Freidberg has defended thousands of people charged with simple and aggravated assault, discovering the most effective methods of crafting a successful defense, which results in the minimum penalty possible, if any at all is imposed. Prosecutors do not want to spend a lot of time on assault cases, unless a law enforcement officer is involved in the incident that led to the charges. Understanding the thought process of the prosecutor enables Mr. Freidberg to be an effective advocate. Although there are many different circumstances that lead to assault charges and Mr. Freidberg will take the time to thoroughly understand his client’s situation, often an assault charge comes down to witness testimony and Mr. Freidberg is skilled in finding ways to discredit or dispute these statements.A Summary of Illinois’ Assault Laws
A person can be charged with simple assault or aggravated assault under Illinois law. An individual can be charged with assault if he or she behaves in such a way as to make another person feel like he is in immediate danger, specifically experiencing a reasonable apprehension of fear. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-1). In Illinois, the accused does not have to cause actual harm to the victim. If a person has a weapon, such as a gun or a knife, and handles it in such a way as could reasonably be perceived as threatening then that person can be charged with aggravated assault. The apprehension has to be reasonable, so Aunt Mildred cannot be charged with assault if she is in her kitchen cooking and talks with her hands while holding a large knife, but Uncle Jack can be charged if he goes into the kitchen, takes that knife, and subsequently waves it in the face of cousin Johnny while telling him he is going to cut him.
The main issue is imminent contact or harm. If the accused’s conduct represents conditional language that did not express any present intent to harm the victim, then it is not an assault under the statute. A conditional threat is one that threatens harm unless the victim behaves a certain way in the future. Because said harm depends on something that may happen in the future, any contact a victim anticipates is future rather than imminent contact. A conditional threat is not sufficient to justify an assault.
Frequently, assault and battery are heard in the same sentence. Some people explain assault as inducing reasonable apprehension in a person that he is about to be the victim of battery. Battery involves a person inflicting actual bodily harm on another. Generally, assault is charged as a misdemeanor and penalties include a fine, with the possibility of some jail time. Courts sometimes will often order a specific amount of community service as well.
If the incident is charged as aggravated assault, the penalties are more severe and it may be charged as a felony. An altercation where the defendant has used a deadly weapon, such as a gun, usually will be charged as aggravated assault. An incident may also be charged as an aggravated assault if it involves a protected class of people, including police officers, the elderly, and teachers.
There are affirmative defenses that often are argued in assault cases, including self-defense and acting in the defense of others.Aggravated Assault
There are fourteen different categories of actions that will result in assault charges. A person may be charged with aggravated assault if he or she:
- Uses of a deadly weapon or a simulated device that is accurate enough to pass for a weapon;
- Uses clothing or a mask to conceal his identity or a firearm;
- Knowingly assaults a teacher or other school employee;
- Knowingly assaults a park district employee on the grounds of the park;
- Knowingly assaults a person employed by the State Department of Public Aid or County Department of Public Aid while that person is on or adjacent to property used for Public Aid purposes, including the home or location of a public aid applicant;
- Knowingly assaults a peace officer, correctional officer, fireman, or any party acting on the direction of these authorities, while the officer or fireman is performing official duties;
- Knowingly assaults a paramedic, ambulance operator, or any other provider of medical assistance actively engaged in his or her job or in retaliation for the performance of those duties;
- Knowingly assaults a public transportation passenger or provider on a public transportation system or grounds associated with public transportation;
- Knowingly assaults is an employee of the State of Illinois or any related entity while that person is conducting authorized duties;
- Knowingly assaults a physically handicapped individual (without any legal justification, such as lawful restraint);
- Knowingly assaults someone sixty (60) years of age or older;
- Discharges a firearm; or
- Knowingly assaults a correctional officer or employee who is actively performing his or her duties.
There are a number of other crimes involving bodily harm to one individual caused by the actions of another that are included in the umbrella of assault. Included in this is the specifically defined reckless conduct, which is a crime under following circumstances:
- A person may be guilty of reckless conduct if he or she performs an act recklessly and that act causes bodily harm or endangers the safety of another person. This is charged as a Class A misdemeanor.
- A person may be guilty of reckless conduct if he or she performs an act recklessly and that act causes great bodily harm, disfigurement, or permanent disability, regardless of whether the act was lawful or not. This is charged as a Class C felony.
See 720 ILCS 5/12-5.David L. Freidberg Zealously Advocates on Behalf of those Charged with Assault
David L. Freidberg is a Chicago-based attorney with more than 20 years of experience in defending clients who have been charged with assault. Our criminal defense attorneys are well-versed in the intricacies of defending against an assault charge, which turns on the reasonableness of the complainant’s fear of bodily harm in response to the defendant’s actions. Our attorneys are committed to finding out all of the relevant facts and mounting the best defense possible. One of the skills at which our firm is very proficient is the suppression of evidence that was collected in violation of our clients’ rights. Our attorneys anticipate the moves of the prosecution and are able to refute evidence and discredit witnesses in order to exonerate our clients. If an acquittal is not possible, we will work to obtain the best results possible. We are ready to discuss your case at your convenience during a free and confidential consultation, so call us at (312) 560-7100.