Assault Charges in Illinois

An assault under Illinois law occurs when a person knowingly acts without legal authority in a way that puts another person in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. 720 ILCS 5/12-1. This is also called a simple assault. A battery occurs when a person intentionally and knowingly causes another bodily harm, or causes physical contact of a provocative or insulting nature by any means. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.

Despite the use of the word apprehension in the definition of assault, for an assault to occur, the person being assaulted does not necessarily have to be afraid of the person committing the assault. The victim only has to reasonably fear, that is, think or believe that a battery is about to occur. So a larger or seemingly stronger person can be in fear of battery from a smaller or seemingly weaker person.

Your Chicago assault defense attorney can explain that, during a prosecution for assault, the victim does not have to personally testify to prove the “apprehension of a battery” part of an assault charge. The judge or jury can reasonably infer that the victim was in apprehension of a battery based on the facts of the case. People v. Harkey,69 Ill. App. 3d 94 (1979).

Examples of assault include a person raising a fist at another person, or threatening someone with a weapon such as a gun. The use of a gun or another deadly weapon is defined as aggravated assault, and is a much more severe offense than simple assault. In addition, if a person tries to hit another person but misses, this conduct can be enough for an assault charge. Threatening a person with words alone is often not enough for an assault charge, but this may depend on the particular facts of a case.

Defense to Assault Charges

The defenses that are available in a battery case can sometimes be used in an assault case. For example, if you were defending yourself or your property by threatening to hit someone, you may argue that you were acting in self-defense. The facts of your particular case may also provide a good defense to an assault charge. If you did something, such as throw a punch to hit someone, but the person you tried to hit did not see you throw the punch, it is unlikely that you can be charged with assault. Because assault relies on the victim’s apprehension of an impending battery, the victim has to see the punch coming. In other words, the victim cannot be in fear of being hit if the victim does not expect it. An experienced criminal defense attorney can better advise you as to the best defense to use in your particular case.


Assault is a class C misdemeanor in Illinois. 720 ILCS 5/12-1(c). As a class C misdemeanor, the maximum amount of time a defendant may be sentenced to is 30 days, and a fine of up to $1,500. The judge may also require the defendant to perform up to 100 hours of community service.

Contact a Chicago Defense Attorney

If you are arrested for assault or battery, you should contact the zealous criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman for a consultation on your case.


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