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Articles Posted in Battery

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.


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.


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.


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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A Cook County man was recently arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery for allegedly hitting a woman in the head with a bookcase and attempting to strangle her. If you are thinking that this is your average, everyday case of domestic violence, you are wrong. That’s because the alleged victim in this case was the defendant’s 53-year-old mother.

Chicago Domestic Violence Law

The Illinois domestic violence laws are incredibly broad. Not only do they include a wide variety of criminal offenses – assault, battery and harassment to name a few – but a wide variety of victims as well. No doubt when you imagine the typical domestic dispute, you think of a male/female couple, with the male as the perpetrator and the female as the victim. (Although, as I have discussed before, men can be victims of domestic violence as well). So you are probably wondering how it is possible for a grown man to be charged with committing domestic violence against his mother.

Under Illinois law, a crime can be classified as a domestic dispute if it was carried out against any family or household member. A family or household member may include:

  • family members related by blood or adoption (including step-children);
  • spouses or former spouses;
  • a current of former boyfriend/girlfriend, including same-sex partners;
  • disabled individuals and their personal assistants;
  • roommates or former roommates; and
  • individuals with a child in common.

Illinois Aggravated Domestic Battery

In this case, the defendant was charged with aggravated domestic battery. The crime of domestic battery is the same as battery committed against a non-family or household member; the only difference is who the act is committed against.

In Illinois, a person commits battery if he or she knowingly causes bodily harm or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature to another person. A battery is elevated to aggravated based on the type of injury or the status of the victim (for example, a battery becomes aggravated if the victim was disabled), but it is unclear from this case where the aggravating factor came into play.

The punishment for domestic and non-domestic battery is the same. Both are Class A misdemeanors punishable by less than one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. A conviction of domestic battery, however, may carry federal criminal penalties if the crime involved the possession, transportation, shipment or receival of firearms or ammunition. Additionally, while a defendant can receive supervision for a battery charge, which is not a conviction and can be expunged from his or her record, the same is not the case with regard to domestic battery. A conviction for domestic battery is just that, a conviction, which can never be expunged.

Defense against Illinois Domestic Battery

Would the defense of a domestic battery charge be any different than a regular battery charge?

Not at all. As in any other charge of battery, an attorney would look at all the facts and circumstances to mount the best possible criminal defense. In this case, the alleged battery occurred while the mother was attempting to stop her son from allegedly abusing the mother’s dog. The defense would include looking at whether:

  • the defendant was protecting himself from being attacked by the dog;
  • the mother, in her attempt to stop the alleged attack on the dog, committed a battery against her son first, causing the son to act in self-defense;
  • the injuries sustained by the mother could have been accidentally inflicted by the son as he protected himself from the dog; or
  • the mother could have sustained the injuries herself trying to get to her dog, and blamed them on her son when police arrived because of a prior argument.

Regardless of the type of battery, an experienced legal professional will examine all of the evidence to seek a dismissal or reduction of charges.  Continue reading

You often hear of a person having committed “assault and battery”. But while they are closely related, in Illinois assault and battery are two separate crimes, each with different penalties. Assault and battery are also classified as simple or aggravated, with aggravated crimes carrying much stiffer penalties. If you have been charged in the city of Chicago, or in Cook, Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane or McHenry counties with assault or battery, contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately to begin mounting your defense.

Assault Crimes in Chicago  fight

In Illinois, under section 720 ILCS  5/12-1,  a person commits simple assault when he or she knowingly engages in conduct that “places another person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.” Assault is a Class C misdemeanor punishable by less than 30 days in jail and a maximum fine of $1,500. If no jail time is imposed, then the court must order between 30 and 120 hours of community service.

Simple assault does not involve any physical harm to the alleged victim, nor does it require any physical contact. Instead, assault is putting someone in fear that they are about to be injured or struck in any way. However, the law requires that the threat be reasonable.

In examining this reasonableness, at attorney will consider whether:

  • You were close enough to the other person when you made the supposed threat that you actually could have touched them;
  • It was a threat you could have followed through on, or a comical threat that could never happen;
  • The threat was a single statement or action, or whether it was part of a longer interaction that left no reasonable interpretation that you intended harm – for example, you argued with a stranger over his having stolen your parking space and, between yelling about the general lack of courtesy in today’s world and why you were entitled to the spot, you yelled, “I’m so mad I could hit you!”

The presence of any of these scenarios could lead to a dismissal of the assault charges.

Battery Crimes in Chicago

Where assault is the threat of bodily harm, under Illinois statute 720 ILCS 5/12-3, battery is when the person follows through on the threat. A person commits the crime of battery in Illinois when he knowingly:

  • causes bodily harm to another person, or
  • makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature to another person

Battery is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by less than one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500.

Notice that a charge of battery does not require that the alleged victim was injured – there only needs to be unwanted contact. If you pushed someone during an argument, or if you poked the person while yelling racial slurs, this may be enough for the police to arrest and charge you with battery.

Likewise, you can be charged with battery even if you did not physically cause the injury. For example, you could be charged with battery if you punched someone in the face. You could also be charged with battery if you swing a baseball bat into a window, and a piece of shattered glass becomes embedded in the arm of a person standing next to the window. Even if you did not intend the harm, it could still be considered battery because you set in motion the chain of events that caused the injury. Continue reading

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