Saturday, January 1, 2022

HOW YOUR BAR FIGHT CAN BECOME A FELONY IN ILLINOIS

You were out with friends at a bar. Some guy overheard something you said that he didn’t like. He came over and insulted you. You were not about to let that stand, so you punched him. You knew you lost control, but you were not expecting to be charged with a felony on a first offense. Why is it a felony? What can you do? Under Illinois law, you commit battery, if you knowingly without legal justification by any means (1) cause bodily harm or (2) make physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature. While battery is a misdemeanor, it can be upgraded to aggravated battery, a felony, for a variety of reasons including the location of your fight.

Under Illinois law, such locations include “a public way, public property, a public place of accommodation or amusement, a sports venue, or a domestic violence shelter, or in a church, synagogue, mosque, or other building, structure, or place used for religious worship.” A court looks at whether the offense occurred in an area that was accessible to the public. If so, your offense becomes a Class 3 felony, punishable by 2 to 5 years in prison. Some bars, however, are exclusive and private. If the bar was exclusive and private, your charges would not be upgraded on that basis.

If you have been charged with a battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. An attorney can probe for weaknesses in the states’ evidence. As with most crimes, the prosecution must prove all the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Was the bar public or private? Did you have legal >justification such as by acting in self defense? Was the physical contact really insulting or provoking? Even if the evidence against you is overwhelming, an attorney who is respected in the courthouse may be able to negotiate a more favorable plea bargain 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.

See Illinois Battery and Illinois Aggravated Batterystatutes. See also People v. Crawford.

(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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