Domestic Battery’s Mandatory Minimum Sentencing
The state of Illinois considers certain crimes to be very serious, which has led to the idea of mandatory minimum sentencing for some crimes. Aggravated domestic battery is a crime for which, if convicted, you face a mandatory minimum sentence.
What does that mean? It means you could spend a longer time in prison or jail, especially if you have any prior domestic battery convictions on your criminal record. Read on to find out what Illinois considers to be domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery – and how mandatory minimum sentencing can play a role.
What Is Domestic Battery in Illinois?
In Illinois, domestic battery is perpetrated in the state in one of two ways:
- You cause bodily harm to a member of the household or a family member
- You make physical contact with a member of the household or family in a way that is provoking or insulting
If either of these things is done intentionally or knowingly, then prosecutors can charge you with domestic battery.
Who Are Members of the Household and Family?
What separates crimes like domestic battery from just battery? It’s who the crime is perpetrated against. For domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery, a member of the household or family includes:
- Anyone to whom you are currently or have been married
- Anyone you are related to by marriage or blood
- Anyone with whom you share a child
- Anyone you are dating or have dated in the past
- Anyone with whom you share (or have shared) a residence
- Anyone with a disability and their caretaker or assistant
Aggravated Domestic Battery in Illinois
In Illinois, aggravated domestic battery occurs when domestic battery is being perpetrated, and great bodily harm or disfigurement is done. It occurs if a person sustains an injury that leads to disability. It is also perpetrated if, at any point, the perpetrator strangles the victim.
Strangling is defined under the law as purposefully blocking another person’s blood circulation or normal breathing by placing pressure on their throat or neck or blocking their nose or mouth. The amount of time a person is strangled doesn’t matter under the law to qualify as an aggravated domestic battery – simply the act of strangling or choking another person is enough to qualify.
Penalties for Domestic Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery
In Illinois, domestic battery can be a misdemeanor crime or a felony. In most cases, it will be a Class A misdemeanor if it’s your first offense, which can result in a penalty of up to 12 months in jail and fines of as much as $2,500.
If you are found guilty of domestic battery for a second time, you face a Class 4 felony, which can send you to prison for up to three years and make you responsible for fines of as much as $25,000.
If you are found guilty of aggravated domestic battery, it is a Class 2 felony in the state. That can send you to prison for up to seven years.
What About Mandatory Minimum Sentencing?
Since these crimes are subject to mandatory minimum sentencing in Illinois, there is a cutoff for the least amount of time you can spend behind bars for this crime.
For example, if you are convicted for the first time of aggravated domestic battery, you face at least 60 days in jail. However, subsequent convictions for this crime can send you to prison for as many as 14 years, with a sentence of at least three years.
Even a misdemeanor conviction for domestic battery has a mandatory minimum applied to it. Most misdemeanor crimes require people to complete court supervision for a first offense, but under mandatory minimum sentencing, this crime will not be subject to court supervision – you will have to go to jail. Additionally, this crime will go on your permanent criminal record and can never be sealed or expunged.
As you can see, mandatory minimum sentencing is a frightening thing to face. That’s why it’s vital to make sure to have an experienced lawyer who can help you formulate a robust defense to help you be found not guilty or represent you if the prosecution offers a plea deal.
Every case is different, but common defenses to domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery charges include:
Self-Defense Due to Imminent Danger
If you believed there was an imminent threat or danger to yourself or someone else, then that can be a good defense.
Self-Defense Due to a Rational Response
A case for self-defense can also be made if you were acting rationally to what you perceived to be a danger.
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.