An Overview of Intimidation Under Illinois Criminal Law

Shadow of Crime — Waukegan, IL — Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLCThreatening someone might not seem like a serious crime. However, Illinois criminal laws classify some threats as intimidation, which attracts grave repercussions. Below is a brief overview of intimidation in the state.

The Crime

Intimidation arises if one person threatens someone with harm or bodily violence if they act or fail to act in a certain way. Intimidation charges apply whether the threat is direct or indirect. The charges also apply even if the perpetrator doesn’t follow through with the threat.

An example of a direct threat is a restaurant owner threatening a rival with false accusations if the rival doesn’t stop business operations. An example of an indirect threat is if the restaurant owner sends a third party, say a gang member, to threaten the rival on their behalf.

Examples of Intimidation

Intimidation involves various forms of threats. Below are some of the common forms that the state recognizes.

Physical Harm

In this case, a person threatens another with bodily injury. An example is an entrepreneur who threatens to break a rival’s limbs if the rival doesn’t ship out.

Property Damage

This charge arises if a person threatens to damage another person’s property. An example is a homeowner who threatens to damage a neighbor’s windows because the neighbor is noisy.

Physical Confinement

A person threatens to detain or physically confine another person. An example is a homeowner who threatens to lock up kids trespassing on their property.

Criminal Accusation

In this case, a person threatens to make criminal accusations of another person. For example, a student might threaten to accuse their professor of sexual harassment if they fail them in an examination.

Exposure to Hatred

A person threatens to expose another to contempt, ridicule, or hatred. An example is a student who threatens to expose a classmate’s juvenile offenses if they refuse a sublet offer.

Public Official Action

In this case, a public official threatens another person with an action or inaction in their official capacity. An example is a DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) official who threatens not to renew a driver’s license unless the driver helps them with a task.


Threats of boycott involve a person threatening to take collective action, such as a boycott or strike, against another person. An example is a store clerk who threatens to organize a strike if the manager doesn’t give them a dedicated parking space.

Aggravating Factors

Intimidation is typically a Class 3 felony. However, certain factors can elevate the crime to a Class 2 or 1 felony. Class 2 and 1 felonies carry more severe penalties than Class 3 felonies. Below are some of the aggravating factors.

Gang Involvement

Criminal gangs often threaten people with dire consequences in the course of their gang activities. Consider a gang member who threatens to beat up a retailer if the retailer doesn’t pay a protection fee. In this scenario, the gang member will face aggravated intimidation charges if arrested.

Interference in Community Policing
Community policing volunteers help law enforcement officers to keep neighborhoods clean and safe. Therefore, those who threaten community-policing volunteers endanger the whole community. Therefore, such people face aggravated intimidation charges when caught.

Interference in Official Duties

Lastly, those who threaten public officials, in their official capacities, also face aggravated intimidation charges. Examples of public officials include firefighters and correctional officers. An example is a criminal suspect who threatens a correctional officer with violence unless they ignore their contraband.

Intimidation is a serious crime that is punishable with many years of incarceration. Get an experienced criminal lawyer to handle your defense. Daniels, Long & Pinsel, LLC, will give you the aggressive representation you need if you face intimidation or other criminal charges. Call us today so that we can begin to work on your defense as soon as possible.

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