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What an Illinois jury must determine in assault cases

There are many Chicago residents who have never served on a jury; even fewer people may have found themselves facing a jury and charged with a violent crime. That is why it can be so frightening for a person to be in the latter situation. People simply don't know what to expect in a courtroom.

In this post, we will take a look at jury instructions. Specifically, we will look at what juries are instructed to consider in cases involving assault allegations. It is important to note that jury instructions can be extremely complex and lengthy, so we will focus on some very basic distinctions that they are told to make.

To begin with, in order for a jury to find someone guilty of assault, they must decide that a person intentionally or knowingly caused another person to be in reasonable fear of getting hurt, and they must decide that this has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

If the allegations also include aggravating factors including a deadly weapon or concealed identify, the jury may find a person guilty of aggravated assault. This is also a possibility if it is proven that the assault was against certain categories of people or took place in certain locations.

If assault charges are of a sexual nature, a jury will typically be instructed to consider evidence of force, threats, consent and age when deciding on charges of sexual assault. If there is proof that a weapon was used, harm was done, threats were made or controlling substances were used in the course of the alleged assault, juries will be instructed to consider this an aggravated sexual assault.

The fate of an accused person can rest in the hands of jury members. Understanding even a little bit about the instructions that jurors receive in these cases can help people who are facing charges understand more about why certain decisions are made in crafting a defense strategy. For a more thorough explanation of what may happen when a person is facing a jury on assault charges, it can be wise to discuss the details of a specific case with an attorney.

Source: Illinois.gov, "Criminal Jury Instructions: 11.00 Assault, Battery, and Related Crimes," accessed Dec. 17, 2014

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