Aggravated battery is a serious crime, and its definition builds upon conduct that satisfies the charge of battery under Illinois law. One way in which a person can commit a battery is through knowingly, and without legal justification, causing bodily harm to another person. A person can commit aggravated battery in several ways under Illinois law. One of the most important elements to the definition of the crime of aggravated battery under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/12-3.05) is the requirement for the victim to have suffered “great bodily harm.” The language of the law does not provide an exact legal definition for the phrase “great bodily harm.” However, Illinois courts have given guidance as to what kind of injuries would qualify for both battery and aggravated battery charges.
The difference between bodily harm and great bodily harm is a matter of degree. According to Illinois court, the great bodily harm required for a charge of aggravated battery is harm that is graver or more serious than the kind of injury that would constitute bodily harm as required for a charge of simple battery. (People v. Figures, 216 Ill. App. 3d 398 (1991)). Illinois law requires some sort of physical pain or injury to a person’s body, such as lacerations, bruises, or abrasions, in order to find a defendant guilty of one kind of simple battery. These kinds of injuries are what constitute bodily harm. (People v. Mays, 91 Ill. 2d 251, 256 (1982)). It therefore follows that for a conviction of great bodily harm, the victim needs to have sustained greater injuries than these. The injuries may be temporary or permanent; just because an injury is temporary does not mean that it does not rise to the severity needed for an aggravated battery charge. Only a judge or a jury can decide, based on looking at the victim’s injuries in a particular case, whether the standard of great bodily harm has been met.
Injuries that have been found to constitute great bodily harm in some Illinois cases have included the following: multiple bruises all over the victim’s body, combined with cuts and lacerations, and a diagnosis from the victim’s doctor that the victim suffered multiple contusions, a closed head injury, and leg abrasions. Injuries including broken bones and loss of teeth have also been found be great bodily harm. Note however, in one case, a single stab wound to the victim’s shoulder was not found to be sufficient for an aggravated battery charge, and was instead a battery. In re J.A., 336 Ill. App. 3d 814, 815 (2003).
Although most cases of aggravated battery are charged as class 3 felonies, cases that involve victims suffering great bodily harm are usually charged as more serious felonies and carry stiffer sentences.
If you or someone you know is arrested for battery or aggravated battery, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately due to the impact a victim’s injuries could have on sentencing. Contact Chicago aggravated battery defense attorney Steven Goldman for a consultation on your case.