In Illinois, you commit simple battery if you knowingly, without legal justification, physically hurt another person or cause contact of an offensive nature, such as grabbing at them. Simple battery is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 1 year in jail.

But there is a whole host of ways in which simple battery can be upgraded to a more serious aggravated battery charge. Aggravation can be based on the type of injury, the type of victim or the place of the offense. Charges can range from a Class 3 to a Class X Felony with a penalty range of 3 to 60 years in prison. If guns are involved, you could face a minimum prison term of 20 years and have up to 25 years added to any sentence if you harmed a child under the age of 13.

You can be upgraded to aggravated battery if you knowingly strangle someone or cause great bodily harm, disfigurement or severe and permanent disability. This includes injury from a bomb, flammable gas, poison or throwing a caustic substance such as lye at someone.

Even if the injury was not severe, aggravation can be based on the victim’s status. It is aggravated battery to harm a child, mentally retarded or handicapped person, pregnant woman, senior citizen over age 60 or a teacher. The charge is also enhanced if you harm a State of Illinois or school district official, police officer, firefighter, community policing volunteer, prison official or security guard when they are performing their duties or if you are retaliating against them because of those duties. Persons protected also include taxi drivers while on duty or a merchant detaining you for retail theft.

You can be charged with aggravated battery if the offense took place in a public place, a sports venue or a domestic violence shelter.

There are also enhanced penalties for shooting someone with a gun or machine gun.

If you are charged with battery or a similar offense, contact a criminal law attorney immediately. Do not speak to the police or anyone else about your situation either orally or by electronic media such as texting or Facebook. Just like in the cop shows, anything you say may be used against you. A criminal law attorney can carefully review the law and the evidence against you to help devise the best strategy for your defense. Maybe you were acting in self defense. Maybe the firefighter you hurt was off duty.

Even if the evidence is overwhelming, an experienced attorney may to negotiate a better plea agreement than you could on your own.

If you have questions about this or another related 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.)