Battery Charges Defense Attorney
Battery occurs when two or more people engage in a physical altercation, resulting in bodily harm. It can also take place when someone insults or provokes another without actually touching the other person.
Battery most commonly takes place when two people get into a fist fight, and there is punching, kicking, hair pulling, pushing, shoving or even spitting. Even just a single act of any of these can result in a charge of battery.
From my years of practice, the most common way to defend against a battery charge is to claim self-defense. In cases where eyewitness testimony or video surveillance is available, often times I can gain an acquittal for my client. In cases where a defendant is protecting another person, perhaps a girlfriend or a family member, I can also make a good case for acquittal, as long as the amount of force used is considered reasonable given the circumstances.
Battery is generally regarded as a misdemeanor unless aggravating circumstances are present. A conviction of a misdemeanor battery charge can result in a jail sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500, although many times, I can work with the courts to have a the charge amended or the sentence reduced to community service and supervision.
I have handled hundreds cases of domestic battery over the years. These types of cases focus exclusively on one family member causing bodily harm to another family member or when one family insults or provokes another. Typically, I have worked on cases involving spouses or former spouses, parents, children, persons who are dating each other or living together, and even persons who are caregivers for a disabled person but who have no blood relations.
A charge of domestic battery can either be a misdemeanor or a felony. For most misdemeanors, there’s a good chance a defendant may be eligible for court supervision if it is their first offense. However, when a person is charged with domestic battery, they are not eligible for court supervision, and a conviction cannot be expunged or sealed from a defendant’s record, making domestic battery a more serious charge than other misdemeanors. A charge can be elevated to a Class 4 felony if a defendant has a prior domestic battery conviction or if other aggravating factors are present.
While there are many possible defenses to a charge of domestic battery, the most common of these is self-defense. On the surface, an act of battery may seem clear cut, but through my experience, I have seen that it pays to delve deep into a relationship, which can uncover facts that may cast reasonable doubt which can lead to a dismissal of charges.
Orders of Protection
Victims of domestic abuse can use orders of protection as an effective tool to protect themselves from future acts of violence. Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, family and household members can seek to have one of three possible orders of protection issued. I can assist family members who feel threatened to proceed with this legal action quickly if needed and to prepare for a full hearing for a more permanent solution.
Emergency Order – This can be obtained 24/7 and is in effect for 12 to 21 days.
Interim – After an alleged abuser has been notified that an order of protection is pending against them, this order will fill the gap and lasts up to 30 days until a full hearing takes place.
Plenary – This is a full order of protection, issued after a hearing where both sides present their cases to the court. It can remain in effect for as long as two years.
Unfortunately, I have also seen many instances where orders of protection are used to extract revenge or harass one spouse or another. If you feel you have been unnecessarily targeted, you can also contact me to discuss your legal options to protect your rights as well. I have successfully defended against hundreds of orders of protection over the last ten years.
A battery charge will be elevated to a more serious aggravated battery charge if any of the following are part of the incident:
- The use of deadly force.
- The defendant is hooded to conceal their identity.
- An object is used that looks like a real firearm. This might include toy guns or knives as an example.
- Operates a vehicle in a threatening way that makes a victim feel they might be in imminent danger.
- Recording the battery with the intent to disseminate it.
- Causing harm to an unborn fetus at any stage of pregnancy.
- The assault takes place in a public place, or a road or highway or in a public facility of some kind.
- Is committed against a person of a special victim class such as a police officer, firefighter, teacher, EMT, a person over 60 years of age or someone who is physically handicapped.
Because aggravated battery cases have so many variables, it is difficult to say whether a person will be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony. And if they are charged with a felony, it can range from a Class 3 felony with a prison sentence of up to 5 years to a Class X felony which could result in up to 60 years in prison if there are extensive aggravating circumstances.
Depending on the facts of the case, many times I have been able to negotiate a plea bargain down to a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea where evidence is not in our favor and supports a guilty charge.
Aggravated Battery on a Police Officer
Police officers are considered a special class in Illinois, and as such, when a person commits aggravated battery on a police officer, the charges are elevated. In cases where the physical contact does not cause bodily harm, it is still considered a Class 2 felony and can result in a prison sentence of up to 7 years. In cases where there is great bodily harm caused to the police officer, a defendant will face a Class 1 felony and could be punished by up to 15 years in prison.
Aggravated battery on a police officer can take many forms. If you are already in prison and aggressively and purposely attempt to put your bodily fluids, such as saliva or blood, on a peace officer, you can be charged as well.
Needless to say, I have seen many cases where a felony conviction of this sort can have far reaching implications on a person for the rest of their lives. However, because these types of cases can be complex, I do offer hope that an intense review of the facts may result in the formation of a valid defense on your behalf.
Simple battery is the most basic form of battery, and although the name suggests that this charge might be “simple” in nature, the fact of the matter is that a person who is charged with any kind of battery should not be fooled into thinking they are facing a simple charge or a simple defense. A basic charge of battery is still considered a crime of violence, and courts always look harshly upon those who are convicted of violent crimes.
In most cases, simple battery will result in misdemeanor charges, meaning no more than up to one year in jail and a fine. In cases of simple battery, I am able to employ a variety of possible defenses as the facts warrant. This usually includes self-defense, a lack of evidence or possibly coercion where the defendant was threatened by another to commit battery under the threat that they might be harmed instead.
Even though charges and penalties may not seem too harsh compared to other forms of battery, I strongly encourage my clients to mount a strong defense, even for a first offense. This is because much more serious consequences can lie in store for a defendant if they are faced with another battery charge later in life. It’s vital to do everything possible to keep your record clean for this reason, and for so many others, including job prospects or attempting to rent an apartment for example.
Aggravated Battery with a Firearm
When a firearm is used during the commission of an act of battery, this is perhaps the most serious of all forms of battery. You will be charged with a Class X felony plus sentencing enhancements. The minimum prison sentence for a Class X felony conviction is 6 to 30 years and can rise even more if certain other criteria is met.
A basic Class X felony conviction of aggravated battery with a firearm takes place when a person discharges a firearm and causes injury to another person. In addition to Class X sentencing guidelines, the court will add 15 years if you were armed with a firearm during the commission of a Class X felony; add 20 years if you fired the firearm, and add 25 years to life if you caused great bodily harm or death.
If you use a firearm while committing an act of battery against a peace officer, firefighter, EMT, teacher or other protected classes of employees, you could have as much as 60 years added to your sentence, if convicted.
Whether intentional, premeditated or just a spur of the moment decision, being charged with aggravated battery with a firearm demands an immediate mounting of a defense to have the greatest chance of finding you innocent. Many times, the facts of a case can reveal small but important pieces of information that a less experienced attorney may overlook. But through my many years of practice, I can quickly and thoroughly review that information to see if it can be used to preserve your rights and your freedom.
Resisting Obstructing Police
Among the most common battery charges in Illinois is resisting or obstructing a police officer. Most of the time, these charges come about as a result of being approached by the police for some other type of conduct.
This might happen if a person is involved in a protest march, or if the police are summoned to a home to deal with a case of domestic violence, or during a traffic stop. In any instance where a person pulls away from a police officer, refuses to put their hands behind their back to be handcuffed, runs away, or engages in any other act that is a refusal to comply with an officer’s orders, they may be seen as resisting or obstructing a police officer.
In virtually all cases, this is considered a misdemeanor, unless certain aggravating factors come into play. State law requires a minimum of 48 hours of incarceration and a minimum of 100 hours of community service upon conviction. Maximum penalties can range up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500.