When tensions are running high, a minor dispute with a friend, relative, neighbor or even a stranger can suddenly turn ugly. The next thing you know, you may be facing assault charges.
What is simple assault?
Even though people often use the terms “assault and battery” together or interchangeably, these terms don’t mean the same thing. Under Illinois law, assault is any action where you knowingly and unlawfully put another person in reasonable fear of unwanted physical contact.
In other words, you don’t have to actually beat someone up to be charged with assault. In fact, physical contact, or battery, is a distinctly different crime.
What kinds of actions can lead to simple assault charges?
Raising your fist in anger and drawing back as if you are going to hit someone can be considered an assault — even if you never actually throw a punch or purposefully pull it.
Merely yelling at someone in anger isn’t an assault, but actually threatening them with a beating can be if your threat is credible.
For example, if you’re standing across the street and you yell a threat at your neighbor over their fence that you’re going to “punch out their lights” for blowing their leaves in the wee hours of the morning, your neighbor may not be able to convince anybody that they had a reasonable fear that you’d follow through.
On the other hand, if you’re inches from someone in a bar and you threaten to beat them up for bothering your girlfriend, that could be considered an assault.
What are the consequences of a conviction for assault?
In Illinois, a conviction for assault is a Class C misdemeanor. You can be sentenced to 30 days in jail, have to pay a $1,500 fine and do up to 120 hours of community service.
If you’ve been charged with assault, don’t let the court decide your future without a fight. An experienced Cook County attorney can defend your interests.