Crimes against Police Officers
Law enforcement officers are essential to preserving law and order in the state, so Illinois has many laws designed to keep its police officers safe. Some of these laws make a victim’s status as a police officer an aggravating factor. This means that a person charged with, for example, battery will face a harsher sentence if the victim of the crime was a police officer performing his or her official duties.
Under Illinois law, a person commits a battery when he or she either:
- Causes bodily injury to another; or
- Makes insulting or provoking physical contact with another.
If that battery is committed against a police officer, also known as a peace officer, however, it raises the charge to aggravated battery. To convict a defendant of aggravated battery against a peace officer, the prosecution must prove that:
- The defendant committed a battery;
- To a peace officer; and
- The defendant knew that the victim was a peace officer.
The prosecution must also prove that either:
- The officer was performing his or her official duties;
- The battery was to prevent performance of his or her duties; or
- The battery was in retaliation for performing official duties.
Simple battery is a misdemeanor offense, but aggravated battery on a peace officer is generally a Class 2 felony. However, if the battery caused great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement, the charge will be elevated to a Class 1 felony. Further, if the defendant discharged a firearm in the course of the battery, injuring the officer, he or she will be charged with a Class X felony.
A person commits an assault when he or she acts, without lawful justification, to place another person in fear of battery. Simple assault is a Class C misdemeanor.
An assault becomes an aggravated assault when the person assaulted is a peace officer who is:
- Performing his or her official duties;
- Assaulted to prevent the performance of official duties; or
- Assaulted in retaliation for performing his or her duties.
Aggravated assault against a peace officer is generally a Class A misdemeanor, but if a firearm is used, but not discharged, in the assault, it becomes a Class 4 felony.
Involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide charges are also more serious when the victim is a peace officer. Involuntary manslaughter is the unintentional killing of another, without lawful justification, while acting recklessly in a manner likely to cause death or serious injury to another. Reckless homicide is committed when a person kills another while driving and using an incline in a road to cause the vehicle to become airborne.
Involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide are generally Class 3 felonies. But if the victim is a peace officer acting in the course of his or her duties, then it becomes a Class 2 felony.
If you have been charged with a crime against a peace officer, it is especially important that you retain an experienced attorney to defend you. Please contact the skilled Naperville criminal defense attorneys at Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC for an initial consultation.