In Illinois, you commit battery if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-3).

Under Illinois law, “knowingly” means you were consciously aware that your conduct was practically certain to cause a particular result. In People v. Jackson, 2017 IL App (1st) 142879, the defendant did not act knowingly because he did not understand what was happening to him and appeared to be suffering from a psychological issue. Being drugged or intoxicated, however, is not a defense, unless your intoxication was involuntary, and you were deprived of the substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of your conduct.

If you had legal justification, you may wish to raise it as a defense. Illinois courts have upheld legal justification where a defendant was attempting to break up a fight, but not where the defendant was attempting a citizen’s arrest on a municipal ordinance violation.

The definition of “bodily harm” or “insulting physical contact” can be rarther vague. It seems pretty clear that stabbing or punching someone would cause bodily harm. Short of that, an offensive contact is something that might provoke a breach of the peace. Illinois courts have cited spitting or pushing. In People v. Williams, the court held that contact was still provoking or insulting even when the victim is unconscious.

If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. Can the state prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt? An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the state’s case and present your case in its most favorable light.

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

(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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