Like many legal terms, people often use the word assault incorrectly. Although it is used casually to refer to aggressive or violent behavior, the Illinois Criminal Code defines the offense much more specifically. If you have been charged with assault, you are probably unsure of what to do next. The best start to effective criminal defense is educating yourself about your charges. If you are facing assault charges, read on to learn what exactly you are up against.
Assault and Battery Defined
The colloquial definition of assault usually refers to some type of physical altercation between individuals. What many think of as assault is actually two separate offenses according to the Illinois Criminal Code: assault and battery. The legal meaning of assault can only be completely understood when one considers the definition of battery.
Battery refers to instances when a person intentionally and without reason “(1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.” Battery can include things like a fist fight in a bar, slapping someone’s face, or even something as simple as poking someone in the chest with the intention of provoking them. Assault, in the legal sense, includes the threatening actions which precede aggressive or unwanted physical contact. More precisely, assault occurs when an individual is in “reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery.”
Assault and Battery Are Often Charged in Conjunction With Each other
You have probably heard the phrase “assault and battery” before. These two crimes are often charged together but can also be charged separately. An example of an action which would probably lead to an assault charge but not a battery charge is if a person attempted to strike another but missed. Because physical contact was not made, a battery charge would not be appropriate. However, the person who was almost hit experienced assault because he or she was in fear of being punched.
Assault Must Be Intentional
In order for an action to be considered assault, the person committing the action must have knowingly put the target in reasonable apprehension of being hurt. So, actions which are unintentional or accidental cannot be considered assault. Assault can also be justified in situations of self-defense.
Get the Legal Help You Need
Assault or battery charges can be considered a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances. A conviction can result in jail time and significant fines. If you are facing charges for any type of violent crime, contact a knowledgeable Elgin criminal defense attorney for help. Call 847-488-0889 to schedule your free initial consultation today.