IL Supreme Court Rulings Put More “Teeth” in Domestic Violence Law
Cases of domestic violence play out in complicated fashions. Often, many factors make them difficult to prosecute – and, in truth, they’ve not been prosecuted as extensively as they should in the Illinois court system.
All that may soon change. The Illinois Supreme Court has recognized that courts need to hold more abusers accountable. While they acknowledge the complicated nature of these cases, far too many end in tragedy.
Domestic violence in Illinois is on the rise, and stories of abusers killing are far too common. Since chains of incidents often occur over time, the court sees an apparent need to proactively protect victims from abusers.
Here are the laws and penalties currently associated with domestic violence in Illinois – laws and penalties you should expect to see tightened in the near future.
Domestic Violence in Illinois
Certain actions in Illinois are considered domestic violence. These crimes, perpetrated against household members or those in a family, contain violence in various forms.
The law defines a household or family member as one of the following:
- Former or current spouse
- Children, stepchildren, parents, or other person related to you by marriage or blood
- Those who currently or have formerly lived together
- Those who parent a child together
- Anyone dating or engaged
- A person with a disability and their caregiver
Crimes of Domestic Violence
Several crimes can fall into the domestic violence category. These include:
Domestic battery is perpetrated when someone causes intentional bodily harm to a family member or someone in their household.
It may also be defined by physical contact with a household member in a provocative or insulting way.
In Illinois, this crime is a Class A misdemeanor most of the time. They are punishable by as many as 12 months in jail and fines of $2,500.
However, it can be elevated to a Class 4 felony in a few circumstances:
- The defendant has previous domestic battery convictions
- The defendant violates an active order of protection
- The defendant has past convictions of any violent offense against a family member
Class 4 felonies can result in up to six years behind bars and fines as high as $25,000.
Aggravated Domestic Battery
Aggravated domestic battery occurs when the perpetrator causes permanent disability, great bodily harm, or disfigurement. Strangulation can also be charged as aggravated domestic battery.
This offense constitutes a Class 2 felony. Any sentence will require at least 60 days in jail. If previously convicted of aggravated domestic battery, the sentence automatically increases to a minimum of three years in prison.
Interfering with Domestic Violence Reporting
If the defendant tries to prevent someone from flagging domestic violence, like obstructing a phone call to the police, they can be charged with interfering with reporting domestic violence. This is a Class A misdemeanor.
Protective orders form a common component of domestic violence cases. You can seek a protective order from the court if you experience abuse from a household or family member. Protective orders last up to two years from the date issued.
Orders differ, but for the most part, they prohibit the person named in the protective order from contacting the person who sought the order. If they live together, the prohibited person must vacate and stay away from the residence.
Being found in violation of a protective order can lead to arrest.
The violation is a Class 4 felony if prior protective order breaches mark the defendant’s record, or if they’ve been previously convicted of domestic violence crimes.
Without previous domestic violence crimes or previous protective order violations, it’s a Class A misdemeanor.
Everyone has rights, whether you’re a victim or the person accused of perpetrating domestic violence.
Make sure to understand your rights and any charges filed against you, including protective orders. This will help you stay within the confines of the law as you await court day.
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.