Assault is a criminal offense, set out by Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12-1. When most people think of assault, they think of a physical attack on another person. However, many people do not realize that you may be charged with assault even if you never actually touch another person.
The law defines the crime of assault as engaging in conduct that puts another person in “reasonable apprehension” of unwanted contact or harm. Therefore, if you take any action that places someone else in fear, you may face serious criminal charges and penalties.
Simply telling someone you plan to hurt them is not assault, because verbal threats alone are not enough. However, if a verbal threat is accompanied by some type of physical motion, you may face assault charges. Additionally, if you make a physically threatening motion toward someone and they do not see it, it does not constitute assault. For example, if a person is walking away and you make a threatening gesture toward their back, they would not have been put in fear of harm, so no assault would have occurred.
A few examples of assault include the following:
- Coming at someone with your fists up;
- Swinging a bat toward another person; or
- Throwing an object in another person’s direction.
Simple assault is charged as a Class C misdemeanor, which means you could face up to 30 days in jail, up to a $500 fine, probation, and mandatory community service for 30-120 hours.
The crime of assault becomes significantly more serious when it is elevated to aggravated assault. Illinois law defines aggravated assault as an assault when any of the following circumstances exist:
- The assault occurs on a public street, a sports venue, a place of accommodation or amusement, or on other public property;
- The assault occurs against one of the following types of victims: a person over the age of 60; a physically handicapped person; a teacher or other employee of a school on school property; a park employee on park property; any peace officer, fireman, or emergency medical technician while on duty; a probation or correctional officer while on duty; an employee or politician for the state of Illinois; an Illinois transit employee; a working sports coach or official; or a process server while trying to serve papers;
- The assault involves a firearm or discharge of a firearm;
- The assault involves driving a motor vehicle in a manner that puts another person in fear of being struck by the vehicle;
- The suspect uses a mask, hood, or robe to hide his identity during the assault; or
- The suspect made an audio or video recording of the assault with intention of circulating the recording.
Depending on the particular circumstances of the case, aggravated assault may be charged as a Class A misdemeanor, a Class 4 felony, or a Class 3 felony. This means you could have a serious felony conviction on your record and face substantial time behind bars.
If you have been charged with any type of assault offense in Illinois, you should contact experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman at Goldman & Associates for help as soon as possible.