Former American Idol star Jennifer Hudson recently dropped a protection order she filed against her ex-fiance David Otunga, and reports say the two are now focused on doing what’s best for their child. What happened?
Back in November of 2017, Hudson filed a protective order against Otunga for alleged threats and harassment, including pushing her. However, a police investigation cleared Otunga of the charges, and Hudson dropped the emergency order of protection against him two weeks after it was filed. Otunga’s attorney has said that the allegations of domestic abuse were false.
If you are in a similar situation as Otunga, you will greatly benefit from the help of a criminal defense lawyer who can help you battle accusations and manage the investigation by law enforcement into the situation.
In this post, we’ll describe how protection orders work and help you understand the charges and penalties for domestic violence in Illinois.
Understanding Orders of Protection
If an order of protection is filed against you, you will be prohibited from contacting the person named in the order. It exists to protect the alleged victim from further acts of domestic violence. It will also cover children in the relationship. The order of protection can apply even when the alleged victim makes false allegations.
Orders of protection can remain valid for different time periods. They may apply for only a few weeks or have no expiration, depending on the particular court order.
You must follow strict guidelines when you are under an order of protection. You cannot initiate or accept contact from the alleged victim, and you cannot enter the property, workplace, or school of the alleged victim, or any other place where the alleged victim is known to be present. Violating an order of protection can result in serious legal penalties, including jail time and steep fines.
Your case will be helped tremendously if the alleged victim decides to cancel or modify the order of protection by filing a petition with the circuit clerk’s office. Until or unless that happens, you must follow all restrictions carefully to avoid further problems.
Domestic Violence Laws in Illinois
If you have been charged with domestic violence, you need to understand what you are up against.
Domestic violence crimes are acts or threats involving violence against a family or household member. Emotional abuse, verbal abuse, and physical threats are included. A domestic violence crime must occur within one of the following relationships:
- spouses or former spouses
- individuals in a current or former dating relationship
- a parent and child or stepparent and child
- parents who have child in common
- individuals related by blood through a child
- family members related by blood
- current or former roommates in a shared dwelling
- disabled or elderly adult and a caregiver
Domestic violence charges can involve battery and assault. Battery is physical harm through unwanted, provoking, or insulting physical contact. Assault is an attempt or threat of battery or imminent danger, but with no actual physical contact. The prosecution must be able to prove that the charges were carried out with intent.
Penalties for Domestic Violence Crimes
In the state of Illinois, domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor which can result in up to one year of jail time, fines, probation, and prescribed counseling. Additional penalties like loss of visitation rights, loss of right to own a firearm, and limited ability to obtain employment or housing may also apply.
The charge can be raised to a Class 4 felony if prior convictions exist or if the battery involved a child, sexual assault, or a firearm. The penalty is one to three years of incarceration.
Aggravate domestic battery applies if the alleged victim experienced permanent disability or disfigurement or if strangulation was involved. It is a Class 2 felony with penalties of three to seven years of incarceration and probation sentencing.
If other crimes like sexual assault, rape, or kidnapping were involved, additional charges may apply. Consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to understand the extent of your charges.
When charges are filed against you, you will appear at a first hearing to decide whether an order of protection is necessary. A full hearing will follow to determine whether domestic violence took place. A plea bargain can be negotiated by your attorney to reduce your charges, or you may decide to go to trial and have a judge or jury decide your fate.
If you are under an order of protection or you are facing domestic violence charges, it’s important to contact a skilled attorney who can help you build a solid defense. Your attorney may be able to help you avoid long-term consequences. Call today for a free case review.
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.