You commit assault when, without lawful authority, you knowingly engage in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery. Assault is a Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail. (See 720 ILCS 5/12-1).

In defining assault, Illinois courts have held that words alone are usually not enough without some action accompanying those words. Further, a victim must be in fear of immediate battery, not of undetermined future harm. (Note that certain factors such as the victim’s age can upgrade an assault charge into aggravated assault which can be a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony. See 720 ILCS 5/12-2).

Examples of threatening conduct that meet the definition of assault include cases where a defendant has his or her hand on a gun or a tire iron while threatening physical harm. In one case, the defendant drove his car within a few feet of the victim, who was confined to a wheelchair, shouted at her, exited his vehicle, and then came within a foot of her and threatened to “beat her head in.”

However, in People. v. VanHoose, the court did not find sufficient evidence to convict another defendant of assault. There was no evidence of conduct that would place a reasonable person in fear of imminent harm given that he was 15 or 20 feet away from the alleged victim when he made the threats and there were obstacles between them.

If you have been charged with assault or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can review your case for your best possible defense. Can the state prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt? Even if the police acted lawfully and the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse 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 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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