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Mall Makes Simple Aggravated
by Ron Davis
The shopping center site of an assault has made a big difference in the prison sentence of an Illinois man. That’s because the laws in Illinois where the assault occurred impose stiff penalties for such violations in a “public place.”
The scene of the crime was Fox Valley Mall in Aurora. Two men exchanged words with each other inside that shopping center after one of them said “f—k you” to the other. The two men then stepped just outside the shopping center entrance and squared off.
Witnesses said the two were “nose to nose” when one of them butted the other in the face, causing face lacerations and dental injuries. Police arrested the assailant and charged him with aggravated battery.
At trial, an Illinois judge convicted him on the aggravated battery charge and sentenced him to five-and-a-half years’ imprisonment. (That harsh sentence was in part due to a previous felony conviction.)
He appealed, arguing that the judge erred in convicting him of aggravated battery. Instead, he said, the fight occurred on private property, which can only result in a conviction of simple battery and which is a lesser crime.
Illinois law upgrades simple battery to aggravated battery if the offense is committed “on or about a public way, public property or public place of accommodation or amusement. And the judge had declared that the shopping center scene of the assault is public property.
An Illinois appellate court upheld the conviction on the aggravated assault charge, explaining, “By all accounts the offense took place outside the entrance doors to the shopping center…. That was a ‘public place of accommodation or amusement’ as used in the aggravated battery law.” (People v. Pergeson, 2004 WL 886461 [Ill.App. 2 Dist.])
Decision: May 2004
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