Chicago Assault Attorney
Assault is the basic crime of violence under Illinois law, which may be confusing because the offense does not actually involve physical contact between an aggressor and a purported victim. Instead, assault occurs when you put another person in fear of being injured or offensively touched. While this may not sound like very serious behavior, the authorities treat assault as a serious crime, and you will face the prospect of jail time and the certainty of fines and community service if you get convicted. Fortunately, you may be able to avoid all or some of these penalties with a skilled Chicago assault attorney by your side.
At O’Meara Law, we treat every case that comes through our doors as an opportunity to excel in our role as criminal defense attorneys. We will ensure that your rights are respected at every stage of the criminal justice process and we will thoroughly review the evidence that the prosecutor intends to use against you. In many cases, we are able to exclude or reinterpret this evidence to obtain beneficial case outcomes for our clients.
To learn more about we can help, call us today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.
How Does Illinois Law Define Assault?
According to 720 ILCS 5/12-1, you are guilty of assault when you knowingly and without legal authority engage in conduct that causes another person to reasonably fear that they will be the victim of a battery. Under Illinois law, a battery consists of any harmful or offensive physical contact with another person who has not consented to such contact. Thus, an assault is any willful behavior that places a person in fear of receiving unwanted or harmful physical contact.
The boundary between an assault and the legal expression of anger against another person is subtle and somewhat elastic. If someone cuts you off while you’re driving and you angrily shake your fist out the window and curse at them, you’ve probably not committed an assault. But on the other hand, if someone crashes their shopping cart into yours at a supermarket, and you once again shake your fist and begin yell, you might be charged with assault. The key difference is whether you were physically in a position to immediately harm the other person and whether that person reasonably feared being harmed.
What Are the Penalties for Committing Assault?
In Illinois, assault is a class C misdemeanor – the least serious category of criminal offense in the state. Nonetheless, a conviction can have serious consequences, ranging up to 30 days in jail and $1,500 in fines. Furthermore, Illinois law mandates that any person convicted of assault should be sentenced to performing between 30 and 120 hours of community service. In addition to the penalties explicitly listed under the law, you may face the following consequences if convicted of assault:
- Paying for the criminal proceedings
- Shouldering the cost of hiring an attorney
- Dealing with a permanent entry on your criminal history (which is publicly available information)
- Facing trouble finding a job or applying to schools because of your criminal conviction
- Possible deportation if you’re an immigrant
A conviction for assault can have long lasting and unexpected consequences on your life, so you should think carefully before pleading guilty. Ideally, you should meet with an experienced Chicago criminal defense lawyer who can help you make the choice that will place the smallest burden on your future.
How Can a Chicago Assault Attorney Help?
Whether it’s a good idea to plead guilty to your assault charges depends on your personal circumstances and the evidence the prosecutor intends to use against you. Going to trial can be expensive, so the first priority will be to find a resolution of your case before going to trial. Your lawyer will carefully review the available evidence and determine whether any of it may be excludable from the case. By filing a motion to suppress this excludable evidence, your lawyer may keep the prosecutor from bringing the case to trial, and your charges may get dismissed.
Alternatively, your lawyer can leverage weaknesses in the prosecutor’s case to negotiate a beneficial plea agreement. It may be possible to get away with a non-criminal civil infraction, the guarantee of a lenient sentence, or a well-structured probation program that will allow you to move on with your life.
In other cases, it may be best to fight the charges all the way to trial. Whatever the option you and your lawyer decide, you can count on O’Meara Law to zealously pursue the defense of your interests. We have a proven track record of getting our clients the best case outcomes available under their circumstances.
For more information on how we can help you specifically, call us today at 312-909-0706 to get your free and confidential case consultation.