Domestic Violence Charges in Illinois: Frequently Asked Questions
If you’ve been hit with a domestic violence charge, there are probably many important questions running through your mind…and for good reason.
These charges not only have serious criminal and civil implications but can also permanently damage your reputation.
We’ve put together a guide covering the questions we’re frequently asked regarding domestic violence charges, and what you can do to protect your rights during this trying time.
What Is Domestic Battery According to Illinois Law?
A: Battery is physical harm caused to the victim, or unwanted, insulting or provoking physical contact. For the offense to constitute domestic battery, the victim must be someone with whom you have an intimate or family relationship, including:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Current or former dating relationship
- A parent and child, or stepparent and child
- Parents who have a child together
- Blood relatives
- Current or former roommates
- Elderly or disabled adult and caregiver
What Is the Sentence for an Illinois Domestic Violence Conviction?
A: The criminal penalties for domestic violence depend on prior domestic violence convictions and the presence of aggravating factors.
Simple Domestic Battery
Simple domestic battery with no prior offenses or aggravating factors is a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year of jail time or probation, fine, and possible court-ordered counseling.
Domestic battery is a Class 4 felony if you have at least one prior domestic violence conviction, or under the following alleged circumstances:
- You used a firearm
- The battery involved a child
- The battery involved sexual assault
A Class 4 felony is punishable by 1-3 years of imprisonment, but a prosecutor may ask for a more severe sentence based on your criminal history or Illinois’ sentencing extension laws.
Aggravated Domestic Battery
Aggravated domestic battery occurs if you intentionally caused the alleged victim great physical harm, or the offense resulted in permanent disfigurement or disability. This is a Class 2 felony and is punishable 3-7 years in prison. This can be extended to 14 years if criteria for enhanced sentencing can be met.
Can I Still Be Arrested in IL When the Victim Doesn’t Press Charges?
A: Yes. Domestic violence is a criminal matter, meaning that the arrest and charges are handled by the state, regardless of the alleged victim’s preferences.
If the police were called due to a domestic dispute, you can be arrested and brought up on charges even if the victim asks not to press charges.
What If the Victim Wants to Drop the Charges?
A: It’s actually very common for the alleged victim to change his or her mind, and recant any statements made to police.
However, the court can still move ahead with prosecuting domestic violence charges, even if the victim asks for the charges to be dropped. This is up to the courts, not the victim.
What Other Consequences Can I Expect with an IL Domestic Violence Conviction?
A: If you’re charged with domestic violence, it’s likely that you’ll be issued an order of protection. This places many limitations on what you can and cannot do. Orders of protection can include:
- Staying a certain distance from the victim
- Not contacting the alleged victim, whether directly or through a third party
- If you live with the alleged victim, vacating your dwelling
- Temporary forfeit of custody/visitation of children you have with the alleged victim
- Requirement to pay child support
- Requirement to attend counseling
- Firearm possession is prohibited, forcing you to temporarily relinquish any firearms
In most cases, a temporary order of protection is granted by a judge without any trial, meaning that you are unable to give your side of the story.
That being said, a formal hearing will be held to determine if the order should be extended to a permanent order of protection, which occurs within two weeks of the temporary order.
You’ll be allowed to present your side of the story here, but must act fast to retain legal representation and prepare a defense.
How Does an Illinois Domestic Violence Charge Affect my Immigration Status?
A: If you’re an immigrant, you could potentially face deportation for domestic violence charges, particularly if you’re an undocumented immigrant.
This is not always the case, however, and your outcome will depend on the circumstances surrounding the offense and your immigration status.
What Can I Do to Keep from Being Convicted of Domestic Violence in Illinois?
A: If you’re facing domestic violence allegations, you must act quickly and effectively to protect your rights and avoid a conviction and/or issuance of a permanent protective order. This means that you should retain experienced legal representation as soon as possible.
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the alleged offense, there are a number of defense strategies that could be used. Your attorney will be able to craft the best possible defense to help make your case.
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.