Assault or Domestic Assault: Where Does Illinois Draw the Line?
Regardless of the circumstances, assault of any kind is considered a violent crime. This criminal offense often results in prison time, and a criminal history of violent crime can impact you far longer than any jail sentence.
That said, Illinois law does charge episodes of assault and battery separately from domestic violence. Additionally, domestic assault convictions usually carry more severe criminal consequences, and are met with a host of civil consequences that could affect many aspects of your daily life.
So, where exactly does Illinois draw the line between the two crimes? Below, we’re going to cover how Illinois distinguishes simple assault from domestic assault, and the criminal and civil consequences associated with domestic violence.
Illinois Domestic Violence Act
Assault and domestic assault comprise the same physical act of inflicting or threatening bodily harm to another. The difference between these two offenses is fairly simple and straightforward — it solely depends on the defendant’s relationship with the alleged victim.
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act covers violence that occurs within many types of intimate and family relationships:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Current or former dating relationship
- Parent or stepparent and child
- Parents who have a child together
- People related by blood through a child
- Blood relatives
- Current or former roommates
- Caregiver and disabled elderly adult
Under this Act, violence committed within any of these relationships is considered domestic violence. If none of these relationships exist between victim and alleged perpetrator, then the charge is more likely to be simple assault.
Let’s take a look at actual domestic violence charges in more specific detail.
Illinois Domestic Battery
Domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, probation, fines and possible counseling.
When certain circumstances are met, however, domestic battery charges may be elevated to a Class 4 Felony punishable by 1-3 years in prison. Factors that lead to these more severe charges include:
- Having prior domestic battery convictions
- Using a firearm during the commission of the crime
- Presence of a child at the time of battery
- Involvement of sexual assault
The presence of these factors does not, however, signify aggravated domestic battery. Aggravating factors are separate from what has been outlined above.
Illinois Aggravated Domestic Battery
Aggravated domestic battery occurs when:
- The defendant caused great bodily harm to the victim
- The offense resulted in permanent disability or disfigurement of the victim
Aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 Felony punishable by 3-7 years in prison. Under some cases, the term can be extended to up to 14 years.
Domestic Violence Civil Penalties
Although the criminal consequences of domestic violence are already severe, the civil consequences are a completely separate matter, and often have profound effects on defendants’ lives.
Before charges are ever even brought against you, simply being accused of domestic violence will most likely land a protective order against you. This order requires you to stay away from the alleged victim.
This means that if you live together, you’ll be required to leave your home. If you’re convicted, the protective order will most likely be extended.
This type of crime also affects your right to bear arms. A domestic battery conviction automatically prohibits you from owning or possessing a firearm.
If you have been charged, you’ll be forced to give up any guns you own, and if convicted, you won’t be able to get them back.
Child custody and visitation are always determined by what the court considers to be in the best interest of the child.
A domestic violence conviction is therefore likely to reduce contact with your children, or potentially result in the complete loss of child custody and/or visitation.
In an effort to help rehabilitate offenders, those convicted of domestic violence are often required to complete (and pay for) domestic violence or anger management treatment programs. These programs take up a lot of time, and can also be very costly.
Clearly, a domestic assault conviction has many repercussions, including jail time and far-reaching civil consequences.
However, a charge does not equate to a conviction. Be proactive to fight back and beat any domestic violence charges against you.
About the Author:
Andrew M. Weisberg is a former felony prosecutor who now serves as a defense attorney in the greater Chicago area. He has extensive experience in handling all types of criminal cases, from sex offenses and domestic violence to retail theft-related crimes, murder, and drug crimes.