Chicago Assault and Battery Crimes – What’s the Difference?

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.


Hire an Experienced Chicago Assault and Battery Attorney

Whether you are charged with assault or battery, you need a tough criminal defense attorney in your corner. The Law Offices of David L. Freidberg, P.C., has the experience you need to get the charges against you dismissed or decreased to avoid jail time.  Feel free to call us at 312-560-7100 or contact us 24/7 to set up your free consultation.


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