Can Victims of Domestic Violence Drop Charges in Illinois?
Many people believe that if they are involved in an incident where charges are filed, then they can play a role in whether or not to press those charges against the defendant – and drop them if they want.
This isn’t always the case in Illinois, especially when it comes to cases involving domestic violence. Domestic violence offenses are complicated, and the laws are meant to help protect those who are victims.
Here’s what you need to know about what constitutes a domestic violence crime in Illinois, the potential penalties that can be faced, and whether or not the victim can ultimately have the charges dropped if they don’t want to pursue it in court.
What Makes an Offense Domestic Violence?
Domestic violence is its own category of offense because of the way it is defined.
In order for an offense to be considered domestic violence, it must be perpetrated against a household member or a member of the family. The law defines these groups as:
- Anyone who is a former or current spouse
- Anyone who is related to the accused as a parent, child, stepchild, or other person related by marriage or blood
- Anyone with whom the accused has a child
- Anyone with whom the accused has formerly shared or currently shares a dwelling
- Anyone who is in a dating relationship with or who is engaged to the accused
- A disabled person and their caregiver(s)
Crimes of Domestic Violence
Domestic violence crimes are charged as either domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery.
Domestic battery is defined as causing intentional bodily harm to someone in the household or family by making contact physically with them in an insulting way.
Domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor in most cases, but it can be elevated to a Class 4 felony if:
- The accused has any prior convictions of domestic battery
- They are violating a protective order
- The accused has a criminal history of committing violent crimes against house members or family such as unlawful restraint, kidnapping, or murder
The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to 12 months in prison and fines of as much as $2,500. If convicted of a Class 4 felony, then the sentence can be as many as six years in prison and fines for as much as $25,000.
Aggravated Domestic Battery
Aggravated domestic battery occurs when the accused causes bodily harm, disfigurement, or permanent disability to the victim. Strangulation while committing an act of domestic battery also elevates the crime to aggravated domestic battery.
This is a Class 2 felony. If found guilty, the defendant must serve at least 60 days in prison, but anyone with a prior history of aggravated domestic battery can be sentenced to a minimum prison sentence of three years.
Can a Victim Have Domestic Violence Charges Dropped?
The simple answer to whether or not a victim can have domestic violence charges dropped in Illinois: no, they cannot.
Illinois operates under a no-drop policy when it comes to charges related to domestic violence. Even if the victim doesn’t want to press charges, the state can still pursue charges against the accused.
There’s no doubt that cases involving domestic violence are emotionally charged and quite complex. Understand the consequences of what can follow in a domestic violence situation.
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. His work has been recognized by Avvo, Expertise, National Trial Lawyers, and others, and he has been featured on countless news outlets for his experience and knowledge in criminal law.