Battery Charges in Illinois

Under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12-3, a person commits the crime of battery when he or she does the following acts knowingly and without legal justification:

  1. Causes bodily harm to an individual by any means; or
  2. Makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual by any means.

Commonly, people may use the term assault, or assault and battery, to refer to the crime of battery, when they are really referring to the crime of assault. Note that domestic battery is defined as committing a battery on a family or household member. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.

Generally, charges for battery under the first definition of battery are more common than under the second. Battery charges often stem from fights between two or more people. One punch alone can lead to a charge of battery. If a fight erupts in which the police are called, everybody involved in the fight might be arrested, or the police may arrest some people and not others. Similarly, the prosecution may choose to prosecute one person in a fight and not another.

Chicago defense lawyers can explain how there are some defenses that may apply in battery cases. The definition of battery prohibits people from causing bodily harm to others without legal justification. Self-defense is one legal justification that may be used as a defense in a battery case depending on the individual facts of a case. In most self-defense cases, the battery has to be in relation to an immediate threat. An experienced criminal attorney can discuss other applicable defenses that may apply under the facts of your particular case.

Battery May Involve Touch of Any Kind

If a person is accused of the second kind of battery, that involving touch, bear in mind that the touch is not limited to touch by hand or any other body part. The touch can be through the use of an object, or other means, as well. However, the touch has to be deliberate and not accidental, such as bumping into someone on the bus. The kind of touch that would qualify, for example, is if a person deliberately spits on another person. A court would most likely consider this battery because in most cases, the spitting would be considered contact of an insulting or provoking nature.


Battery is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison. However, a court can sentence a defendant convicted of battery to probation or conditional discharge for a period of up to two years. In addition, under Illinois law 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55, a court may impose a fine of not up to $2,500.

If a victim suffers any injuries as a result of a battery, the court may also order the accused defendant to pay the victim for any expenses associated with the treatment of those injuries. The defendant is given a certain amount of time to make these payments, and if a defendant fails to make these payments, the court can order a seizure and sale of his or her property to make the payments. 730 ILCS 5/5-5-6(b).

Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have been arrested for battery, contact Chicago’s experienced criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman immediately.

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