The officer stopped you for DUI near your home. You tried to reason with him to let you go. When he didn’t, you drunkenly tried to hit him. You missed. But now you are charged with aggravated assault on top of your DUI.

Can they do that? What can you do?

In Illinois, you commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Normally, this is a relatively minor offense—a Class C misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail. See 720 ILCS 5/12-1. However, when you swiped at that officer, your offense became a Class 4 felony based on assaulting a peace officer or other emergency personnel, either while performing their official duties or because you wanted to stop them or retaliate against them for performing those duties. 720 ILCS 5/12-2(b)(4.1).

As with most crimes, the state must prove you guilty of all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Did you act knowingly? Note that drunkenness is not a defense here. But what if you swung your arms without realizing the officer was behind you? Was the officer’s fear of battery reasonable? Was the officer performing official duties? What if the officer was not on duty and just came over to watch your arrest? An experienced attorney can raise doubts about the state’s case. If, however, the evidence is overwhelming against you, an attorney who is respected in the court house may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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