Articles Posted in Battery

tertia-van-rensburg-37121-copy-300x224Assault and battery cases occur on a daily basis in Chicago. If you are ever charged in such a case, it is important for you to know what you face moving forward. For starters, you should never defend yourself in court when it comes to even minor or misdemeanor charges. There is no reason you should mess with your freedom or your rights. Let’ us take a look at assault and battery cases in today’s post so you know what to expect if you ever face these charges.

Definition of Assault

The most common definition of assault is when one person threatens to harm another or incites the fear of harm in another person. It could also include the intent to injure another person. For the most part, contact with the victim is not necessary for someone to be charged with assault. That is why you do not need battery to be present for assault be a charge, while on the other hand battery requires assault for both charges to be issued.

nicolas-barbier-garreau-256433-copy-300x240Aggravated battery of a police officer is a serious crime. Chicago judges and law enforcement are especially harsh on these cases. If you were recently charged with this crime, it is important to know your defense options. It is also crucial that you look at recent cases to understand how harsh the judge could be at your arraignment and potential trial.

Recent Cases

On July 4, 2018, Chicago police responded to a domestic dispute at a party. A woman told police that her boyfriend had physically assaulted her. She had left the event, but her child was still there. When the police attempted to arrest the boyfriend, he became violent and used the child as a shield against them. Two of the man’s relatives then assaulted the officers in an attempt to free him.

fabian-grohs-396734-copy-300x240Hate crimes are crimes committed against a person who is targeted for a specific reason. This can be due to race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, or other factors. If you have been arrested for this type of crime, it is essential that you understand what the prosecution has to prove for you to be found guilty.

You may also want to know what type of sentence you could be facing if found guilty. Remember, having an experienced criminal defense lawyer can help eliminate or reduce these sentences.

Hate Crimes and Assault

alex-holyoake-202959-copy-300x200A number of legal issues arise when an employee of a company commits assault on one of its customers. The lines of liability can be blurred, not least because the crime occurs on a business premises. Moreover, the employees are deemed to be working on behalf of their company during office hours. A distinction has to be made between the personal liability of the employee and the corporate liability of the employer. A good lawyer is the key to success in any case.

The first critical consideration is that the employee who has committed the assault is criminally liable for those ctions. When it comes to the civil cases, the employer may be asked to compensate the customer for any demonstrated injuries. Such was a case when a number of ex-bouncers admitted to assaulting customers in a club based within the Chelmsford area of Chicago.

Case Study of Employees Who Commit Assault During Business Hours

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The Wisconsin State Journal reports that two suspects are currently in custody in Illinois in connection with a violent home invasion that took place in Madison last January. Allegedly, the two suspects robbed a 27-year-old man at gunpoint, forced the man into his apartment, and once inside bound the man and his girlfriend with duct tape. The couple claims that the robbers demanded more money and pointed a gun at their 3-year-old daughter’s head. Eventually, the father broke free of his bonds, lunged at one of the gunmen, and was shot multiple times. Thankfully all members of the family survived. Now that both suspects are in custody, they have been charged with several crimes, including false imprisonment.

What is False Imprisonment?

In Illinois, false imprisonment occurs when an individual’s personal liberty or freedom of locomotion is unlawfully restrained. Before a defendant can be convicted of false imprisonment the prosecution must prove the following two elements:

DSC_0041Criminal assault and battery, in most jurisdictions, is defined as an intentional act where one individual attempts to or does strike another individual; or acts in such a threatening manner as to place an individual in immediate fear of harm. Aggravated assault and battery is when an individual causes severe injury to another, often through the use of a deadly weapon.

Although “assault and battery” are related, under Illinois law they are two separate and distinct criminal offenses. State prosecutors may charge these two offenses separately, however, in order for a prosecutor to prosecute on a charge of battery, he must also prove the elements of an “assault.”

An assault is the attempt to injure another person through threats or threatening behavior. It is viewed as an attempted battery, but is distinguished from an actual battery in that no contact is necessary for the assault. Wherein, in a case of “battery,” the prosecutor must prove that the defendant caused bodily harm to his victim. Illinois state law requires that for a charge of aggravated battery, the defendant must have used a firearm, or some other deadly weapon, or caused harm to a child or a law enforcement officer.

On June 30, Florida State University quarterback De’Andre Johnson was charged with misdemeanor battery from an incident in which he allegedly punched a 21-year-old woman in a bar. According to prosecutors, Johnson was involved in a confrontation with the woman after she cut in front of him while they were waiting to place their orders at a bar near the Florida State campus. Witnesses stated that the woman raised her arms and heard her yell “no” twice before Johnson grabbed her and punched her in the face. Court documents stated the woman was trying to defend herself while she was being pushed and grabbed by Johnson.15065463936_f74c578115

Johnson’s lawyers indicated that Johnson was acting in self-defense, stating that the woman raised her fist and shouted racial epithets at him when he accidentally made contact when he was walking up to the bar. Johnson allegedly tried to deescalate the situation, but the woman kneed him in the groin area and tried to hit him before he retaliated. The lawyer stated that he did not react until the woman struck him twice.

Battery

In Illinois, battery is a criminal offense that may either be a misdemeanor or felony, depending on whether there is a serious injury. Illinois criminal code states that battery occurs if a person intentionally or knowingly causes bodily harm to an individual or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature. It is normally a Class A misdemeanor offense that carries a possible one-year prison sentence and a fine of $2,500. Illinois courts may sentence a battery defendant  to probation as opposed to imprisonment, and order community service and counseling.

Self-defense

A defendant against a battery charge may raise self-defense to justify his or her actions. In order to prove that the defendant was acting in self-defense, he or she must prove the following:

  • The defendant believed that force was necessary. The defendant claiming self-defense must have a reasonable belief that the force he or she used was necessary.  In this case, Johnson has to prove that he needed to respond by punching the woman in the face in order to defend himself.  If all the woman did was say an insulting comment without any indicator that she was about to physically attack him, then Johnson may not be able to succeed in his self-defense claim. However, if Johnson can prove that the woman kneed him in the groin and actually tried to hit him twice, he may be able to prove that he actually believed that he needed to use force to defend himself.
  • The amount of force used is reasonable. In addition to believing that force was necessary, a defendant has to also prove that the amount of force used was reasonable. Here, Johnson would have to prove that punching the woman in the face with enough force to cause a black eye was reasonable in light of her use of force against him.
  • The defendant’s action was against imminent unlawful force against him or her. Johnson can only use self-defense if he can prove that he was defending himself against the imminent use of unlawful force against him. This threat of force must be imminent. If the prosecution can prove that all the victim did was issue verbal insults without showing an imminent attack on Johnson, he would likely not prevail in asserting self-defense.

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On July 8, David J. Marks was sentenced to serve three years in the Illinois Department of Corrections followed by a four-year term of mandatory supervised release for his conviction of aggravated domestic battery.  He pled guilty to the charge last month.13904826266_ef045fab5c

According to a news report, Marks was arrested in the parking lot of a Best Buy store in Carbondale after a battery incident was reported. According to the officers, they arrived at the Best Buy parking after two private citizens heard the victim cry for help and intervened, which allowed the victim to escape. The victim told police that Marks, her ex-boyfriend, came to her home and abducted her against her will. When they arrived at the Best Buy parking lot, Marks allegedly used a seatbelt to try to strangle her and prevented her from leaving the vehicle. After the private citizens intervened, Marks drove off but was later apprehended.

Domestic Battery Laws in Illinois

Under Illinois statute, a person is guilty of domestic battery if he or she causes bodily harm or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. The statute does not distinguish between minor or serious injuries – therefore, even minor scratches, bruises, or cuts will suffice for a charge of domestic battery.  Even when no injury results from physical contact, a charge may still be brought if the contact was insulting or provoking.

A “family or household member” includes the following individuals:

  • Spouses or ex-spouses;
  • Parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by marriage;
  • Individuals who share or formerly shared a common home;
  • Individuals who have or allegedly have a child in common, or individuals who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child;
  • Individuals who have or have been dating or are engaged; and
  • Individuals with disabilities and their personal assistants and caregivers.

A first offense of domestic battery is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor. However, if the defendant has a prior domestic battery conviction, has violated an order of protection, or if other aggravating factors are present, then it is a Class 4 felony. Aggravating factors include causing great bodily harm, permanent disability or disfigurement, if the victim was pregnant when the alleged battery occurred, or battery involving a deadly weapon or strangulation. In the case above, Marks pled guilty to attempting to strangle the victim, which is why he was convicted of aggravated domestic battery.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Normally, first offenders are eligible for court supervision in most misdemeanor cases.  However, with regard to domestic battery, defendants are not eligible for court supervision and the mandatory minimum sentence involves a conviction. A conviction for domestic battery can never be expunged or sealed from a defendant’s record. Therefore, domestic battery is considered to be a more serious offense than other misdemeanors. If the charge is for aggravated domestic battery, is a Class 4 felony and carries a possible sentence of one to three years imprisonment.

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You’ve no doubt heard about Maroon 5 front man and The Voice star Adam Levine being sugar bombed recently, most likely in reference to the band’s current hit song Sugar. But what the assailant no doubt thought would be a hilarious prank turned out to be not so funny when he was arrested and charged with battery.7881515460_2412f9830a

Chicago Battery Charge Requires Only Slight Contact

A battery charge isn’t contingent upon the amount of physical harm caused to the victim. It doesn’t matter that it was meant as a prank, and that after the fact, when it was clear Levine suffered no real harm, people laughed. The only thing that matters is that there was contact between the defendant and the victim, and the nature of that contact. In order to be charged with battery the defendant must have:

  • Acted knowingly;
  • Without legal justification, and;
  • Caused bodily harm or;
  • Made physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.

So how does this apply to the sugar bombing? Let’s examine each element separately.

The ‘knowingly’ requirement

Acting “knowingly” means that the defendant’s action could not have been accidental. The defendant must have either done it on purpose, or acted in a manner that he was reasonably certain would have resulted in Levine getting doused with sugar. If he had been walking down the street with a bag of sugar and dumped it only after tripping, that would not rise to the level of “knowing” required to be convicted of battery.

‘Without legal justification’

This element means that the defendant could not have acted in self-defense, or because he had other legal justification to make physical contact with the victim. It is this “without legal justification” element that protects law enforcement from being charged with battery for routine arrests. The defendant in this case would have to prove that Levine attacked him, and that the defendant threw the sugar to protect himself from the attack.

Caused bodily harm

One way to complete a battery is for the defendant to have caused bodily harm to the victim. The harm doesn’t need to be severe or require medical attention in order to qualify. A scratch or bruise is the same as a broken bone in terms of meeting the harm requirement. If the sugar was thrown with enough force to cause even a reddening, or if it got into Levine’s eyes and caused a stinging, that slightest injury would be sufficient to constitute a battery.

Physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature

The second way to complete a battery is for the contact to be insulting or provoking. A shove may not cause bodily harm, but it is an act that provokes a response. If a shove is accompanied by trash talk, that could constitute contact of an insulting nature.

Physical contact doesn’t need to be to the victim’s body; it can be to an object the victim is holding. Kicking a cane, or pushing a ball out of a person’s hands while making threatening statements could be considered contact of an insulting or provoking nature. The physical contact also does not need to be from the victim’s hand or other body part. The defendant only needs to have been in control of the item that made contact with the victim.

The sugar bombing could meet either of these requirements, depending on the circumstances. If the defendant yelled any derogatory, inflammatory or insulting words to Levine during the attack, that would make it both insulting and provoking and would qualify as a battery. Likewise, throwing anything at a person would be considered provoking, as it could give rise to a retaliatory response by the victim.

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A Southside Chicago man claims that Chicago police stormed his home, placed him in a chokehold and arrested him for doing nothing more than walking down the street. Police arrested the man on misdemeanor counts of battery, resisting arrest, and possession of a deadly weapon. The man’s niece captured the incident on her iPad.

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Unlawful Chicago Search and Seizures

I have discussed extensively on this blog before about the right of Chicago residents to be free from unlawful search and seizures, or stop and frisk. While police have the right to address anybody on the street – even asking a person to “come here” – unless they have a reasonable belief that the individual has committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime, the person approached has the absolute right to completely ignore the police.

If this man’s story is true – that he did nothing more than ignore the police’s request that he “come here” after they pulled up alongside him – then the police grossly exceeded their authority. Ignoring a police inquiry does not give them the authority to conduct a stop and frisk. It certainly does not give them the right to follow the person to his home, storm his residence, and then charge him with resisting arrest. If the initial stop was unlawful which, if the facts alleged here are true, it was, then any search and arrest that followed were illegal, and all charges against the defendant must be dismissed.

Racial Profiling by Chicago Police

It is an unfortunate fact that racial profiling exists. Studies show that Chicago police officers repeatedly engage in racial profiling, particularly when it comes to traffic stops. The American Civil Liberties Union’s review of traffic stop data collected by the Illinois Department of Transportation shows that Chicago police officers are four times more likely to ask to search vehicles driven by African-American and Hispanic drivers than those driven by white motorists, despite the fact that illegal drugs or guns are found more frequently in the vehicles of white motorists.

Numerous anecdotal reports of racial profiling exist as well. Even the University of Chicago police department, a private force that has the full power of local police for the area it serves, has been accused of engaging in racial profiling.

Stopping an African-American, Hispanic or other ethnic minority based on a reasonable suspicion that he is engaged in illegal activity does not constitute racial profiling. Stopping an African-American, Hispanic or other ethnic minority simply because they are black and “all black men are criminals”, which appears to be the case in this incident, is racial profiling. A stop that is based solely on the color of one’s skin, without any other evidence to support a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, is illegal, and any search and arrest that follows must be dismissed.

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