Illinois Domestic Assault: Is It a Misdemeanor or Felony Charge?
If you think that you could be facing domestic assault charges, knowing what you’re up against is the first step in taking action and fighting back to beat the charges against you.
Many clients ask us whether their domestic assault charge will be considered a felony or a misdemeanor. Domestic violence is what’s considered a “wobbler” offense. This means it can be considered either a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the circumstances of the offense.
We’ve put together a guide covering what classifies domestic battery as a misdemeanor versus a felony. We also talk about the collateral consequences you could face with allegations of domestic violence, regardless of the level of offense.
Misdemeanor vs. Felony Domestic Battery
A simple domestic battery offense is considered a misdemeanor, usually punishable by fines and at most one year in jail. This offense occurs when the defendant commits an act of physical violence towards someone with whom they have a familial or intimate relationship.
Aggravating Factors Make Domestic Battery a Felony Charge
However, if the charge of domestic battery is elevated to aggravated domestic battery, which is considered a Class 2 Felony in Illinois, punishable by 3 to 7 years in state prison, in addition to the lifelong consequences of being a convicted felon.
The following aggravating factors can elevate your charges from a misdemeanor to a felony:
- Offenses involving a minor
- Violent acts or threats made using a deadly weapon, or threat thereof
- Violent acts involving sexual abuse
- The defendant caused great bodily injury or permanent disfigurement to the victim
- The offense involved strangulation
- The offense is the third or more charge of domestic violence
Once an Illinois offender’s criminal consequences have been addressed, he or she may then need to face additional civil consequences.
IL Protective Orders: Civil Consequences of Domestic Assault Charges
Regardless of the level of charges you face or the legitimacy of the accusations, allegations of domestic violence often have profound civil consequences, including the protective order that is usually issued to protect the alleged victim.
A temporary emergency order of protection is generally issued immediately following any allegation of domestic violence.
An emergency protective order is generally issued as soon as allegations of domestic violence are made, and it is issued regardless of the defendant’s side of the story.
However, within 14 days of the temporary protective order issuance, a hearing is held to determine if the protective order should be made permanent. This is separate from any criminal charges faced by the defendant.
Common Terms of Protective Orders in Illinois
The terms of protective order depend on the situation, but common terms include:
- The defendant must stay a certain distance away from the alleged victim
- The defendant may not contact the alleged victim, whether directly or through mutual acquaintances
- If the defendant and alleged victim live together, the defendant will be prohibited from entering the shared domicile
- If the defendant and alleged victim have minor children, temporary revocation of custody or visitation rights
- The defendant is required to pay child support
- The defendant is prohibited from possessing a firearm, and all firearms in the defendant’s possession must be temporarily relinquished
An Illinois Domestic Assault Attorney Can Help You Act Quickly
While a hearing gives you the opportunity to tell your side of the story, it requires immediate action, as the time to develop a good defense is very limited.
So if you are facing any domestic battery charges at all, or think that you could be accused of domestic assault, mitigate the situation by reaching out to an experienced Illinois defense attorney fast
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.