(720 ILCS 5/12-3) (from Ch. 38, par. 12-3)
Sec. 12-3. Battery.
(a) A person commits battery if he or she knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) causes bodily harm to an individual or (2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with an individual.
Battery is a Class A misdemeanor.
(Source: P.A. 96-1551, eff. 7-1-11.)
I have represented countless people charged with battery. The facts of their arrests will always include some sort of unwanted contact with another. Most of these cases stem from bar fights or an altercation after a night of drinking. Some of these cases result from a dispute at a sporting event, such as a Bears game. Every once in awhile, the battery will be the result of a friendship of work relationship gone bad. The main thing to remember in a battery case is that self defense is not a crime. It is a defense. This means if someone hits you, you can defend yourself.
First off, battery or simple battery is a misdemeanor. That means that a person could be jailed for it where the maximum sentence is 364 days, or less than a full year. If a person is charged with battery the State’s Attorney’s office will try to prosecute you mainly using the observation and testimony of the alleged victim. Sometime the State’s Attorney will try to introduce photos of injuries to prosecute the cases. One thing that distinguishes a battery prosecution from most other charges is that 9 times out of 10 a police officer was not present to witness it. This means, generally, a police officer will not be called as a witness at a battery trial.
In one particular case that I took to trial I represented a woman who the alleged hit her former boss. The truth is, it is not unimaginable that someone would hit their former boss. In this case, the state laid out the facts of their case using the testimony of the alleged victim. The alleged victim, the boss, stated that after having a verbal altercation with my client, the employee, the employee attacked her.
On cross examination, I was able to get some information out of the boss that the state brushed over. The boss thought the employee worked slow. The boss accused the employee of doing poor work on a daily basis. Then I got the boss to flat out admit, she did not like the employee and she wanted to see her get into trouble. I used those answers to prove that the boss’s testimony was biased. It was biased because she knew that her words alone were going to get the employee in trouble and she was happy about that. If a person is purposefully trying to cause another to get into trouble because they do not like them that will call into question the integrity of their statements to the court. I then asked my client to testify. She testified that the on the day in question the boss was trying to use a specific machine at their work that the employee was using. The boss demanded that employee leave the machine, which she refused. As a result, the boss pushed and then hit the employee. The employee reacted by hitting the boss back. As I said previously, you have a right to defend yourself.
In my closing argument, I argued that the boss’s testimony was biased in that she did not like the employee. I argued that the boss’s version of events did not make any sense, and the defendant’s version of events did make sense. Finally, I argued that the only evidence given was the testimony of the boss and the employee and that these two version of events did not match up. Thus, this is a she said, she said case and therefore, cannot be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. The Judge ruled that there was not enough evidence to prove my client guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore not guilty.