IL Domestic Violence Prosecutions Down, But You Can Still Be Charged
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every single aspect of our lives, including how we get along with people in our own household.
According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline, tensions between people quarantined together at home have resulted in more calls to the hotline in 2020. In fact, they report a 16 percent increase in the overall calls compared to the same time in the previous year.
Yet even as calls for help from domestic violence situations skyrocketed, the number of prosecutions for domestic violence declined in 2020, according to the Cook County State Attorney’s Office. In fact, there was a 22 percent decline from 2020 to 2019.
Even so, the state of Illinois does not tolerate domestic violence. If you are prosecuted and found guilty of domestic violence, the charges reflect that seriousness. Here’s what you need to know about domestic violence charges and penalties in Illinois.
What Is Domestic Violence in Illinois?
In the state of Illinois, domestic violence is defined as a family or household member enacting violence toward another family or household member. Under the law, a person is considered a member of the household or family if:
- They are a spouse or former spouse.
- They are the caregiver of a disabled person.
- They are related by marriage or blood, which includes children, stepchildren, and parents.
- They are in a romantic relationship, either dating or engaged.
- They have a child together.
- They share a living space or have shared one in the past.
The Charges Associated with Domestic Violence in Illinois
Several acts can fall under the umbrella of domestic violence in Illinois. The most common that result in domestic violence charges are:
This occurs when someone causes intentional bodily harm to another family or household member. It can also be charged if physical contact is made in an insulting or provocative way.
Domestic battery may be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. It typically increases to a felony charge if the battery occurs in conjunction with:
- Use of a firearm
- Battery of a child
- Sexual assault
A Class 4 felony may also be charged if the defendant has been previously convicted of domestic violence. Conviction on a Class 4 felony can result in up to six years in prison and fines for as much as $25,000.
However, if none of the above apply, the charge will likely fall under Class A misdemeanor. You may serve up to 12 months in jail and be fined as much as $2,500.
Aggravated Domestic Battery
Domestic battery can be charged as an aggravated domestic battery if the victim sustains an injury. Examples that count as “injury” include permanent disability, disfigurement, great bodily harm, or strangulation. This is a Class 2 felony and can be punished by at least 60 days in jail and probation. If there is a history of domestic violence, aggravated battery can result in a minimum three-year sentence.
Domestic violence is a grave charge, so it’s vital to understand your rights if you ever find yourself accused. Consult an experienced attorney to mount a proper defense against charges that could have an impact on the rest of your life.
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.