If you have been charged with aggravated battery in Chicago, or anywhere in Cook County, you are in the right place. Here you will find the information necessary to make an intelligent and informed decision. It comes from me, Chris Shepherd, a Chicago aggravated battery attorney since 2005.
What is the Difference Between Simple Battery and Aggravated Battery in Illinois?
Aggravated battery is simply a regular battery that has some additional “aggravating” factor. While there are many types of aggravated battery, they usually involve:
- severe injuries,
- use of a weapon, such as a firearm, or
- harm to a protected class of people such as police officers, children or the elderly. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.05
There are dozens more types of aggravated battery. If you deliver cocaine or heroin to someone, for example, and they experience injury from that drug, you can be charged with aggravated battery. But most aggravated battery cases involve the three categories listed above.
Aggravated battery is usually punishable by 5-10 years in prison. The potential downside can be much worse depending on your criminal background and what specific type of aggravated battery you are charged with. Again, there are dozens of types.
You Usually Cannot Plead Guilty to Aggravated Battery Without Suffering a Permanent Conviction or Serving Jail Time
Unlike simple battery charges, negotiating a deal in aggravated battery cases usually involves you having to plead guilty, suffer a permanent conviction and serve jail time. For that reason, pleading guilty is probably not an option for you.
Your Chicago aggravated battery attorney should still attempt to negotiate a deal with prosecutors. It may even be possible to get aggravated battery charges reduced to simple battery, depending on the dynamics of your case. It is a low cost move that may end up saving you time, money, risk and anxiety. For more on this tactic, read my guide on your settlement options.
But, the cold fact is that settlement options in aggravated battery cases are usually limited and not an option. So what do you do?
Beating Your Aggravated Battery Case
Because the stakes are so high in aggravated battery charges, it is important to get out in front of these cases fast. Here are some of the ways I have broken these types of cases for clients in the past:
- Self-Defense. No matter how bad the injuries to your accuser, you are legally entitled to use force that causes great bodily harm, even kills the other person, if you reasonably believed that “such force is necessary to prevent imminent death… great bodily harm…or a forcible felony.” 720 ILCS 5/7-1,
- Investigate Your Accuser's Background. Does your accuser have a history of violence such as arrests for battery, aggravated battery or domestic battery? What about crimes of dishonesty such as retail theft? Even drug crimes can be used to discredit your accuser. You may be amazed not only at the crimes in your accuser's background, but also, how powerful these can be in beating aggravated battery charges in Chicago courts,
- Video. Video is routinely destroyed within 30 days and often as fast as every 48 hours. If there is a potentially good video out there, it is best to pounce on it fast with a subpoena and emergency court order to preserve evidence. Speaking from personal experience, finding a video that proves the other side is lying is extremely professionally satisfying and it does happen…but only if you bother to investigate fast,
- Technical Defenses. There are many other legal technical defenses to aggravated battery charges that are best discussed in person.
The main takeaway is that action out of court is often the surest guarantee of success in court. The disciplined and experienced Chicago aggravated battery attorney does not win cases by sitting in the office, but rather, by going out and investigating. Every criminal case looks dark in the beginning. The key to protecting you in these cases is leveling the playing field by out-investigating, out-researching and out-thinking the powerful and organized government that accuses you.