Signs of Domestic Abuse in Illinois
Many people think they understand what domestic violence, and domestic abuse, are. The truth is that no two situations involving domestic violence and domestic abuse are identical, since this type of crime can take many forms.
In the state of Illinois, domestic abuse is a serious matter. Illinois law protects victims and harshly penalizes those who break the law. Yet many people are unclear about what types of actions constitute domestic abuse in the state – and the various ways someone can get charged with this crime.
Here is what you need to know about how Illinois deals with issues involving domestic abuse and the signs that domestic abuse may be taking place – because it’s not always as obvious as you think.
Illinois Domestic Abuse Laws Defined
In Illinois, there is a law called the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. It was passed to crack down on acts of domestic abuse that were taking place, and it lays out the guidelines used by law enforcement and the courts as to what constitutes domestic violence in the state.
Under the law, anyone committing a specific type of action against a specific person can get charged with domestic violence. However, in order for these charges to be brought, the person has to have committed one of the following acts:
- Harassment by text or phone
- Forcing another to do something against their will
- Interfering with a person’s job
- Forcing someone to have sex
- Making threats against someone
- Preventing a person from seeing their children
- Preventing someone from leaving
- Preventing a person who is handicapped from getting needed care
- Forcing a child or someone else to witness the acts of abuse
In order for it to be considered domestic violence, one of the above actions must be taken against someone who is a member of your household or your family. This includes:
- Anyone you’re married to
- Anyone you’ve previously been married to
- Your parents
- Your children
- Your stepchildren
- Anyone you share a child with
- Anyone you have lived with
- Anyone you have had a romantic relationship with
- A person who is disabled and their caregiver
If you commit an act mentioned above against a person who fits into one of these categories, then you can be charged with domestic violence.
What Are the Penalties for Domestic Violence in Illinois?
In most cases, a domestic violence charge will be a Class A misdemeanor. That is punishable by up to 12 months behind bars, probation, and fines. However, if you have a criminal history that involves certain types of crimes, such as aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery, or attempted murder, you can face a Class 4 felony. If convicted, you can go to prison for up to three years and be fined as much as $25,000.
In cases where a person has three prior domestic battery convictions, they can get charged with a Class 3 felony. This level of a felony can send you to prison for up to five years and make you responsible for fines. With four or more domestic battery convictions on your record, you can get charged with a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by up to seven years in prison and fines.
Signs of Chicago Domestic Violence
There are numerous signs that domestic violence may be occurring in a relationship. In some cases, people may not even realize that the things happening in their relationships with household or family members violate the law, but understanding the signs may help you avoid an escalation that can lead to legal problems.
Domestic violence can result in things like bruises, marks on the neck, or broken bones. However, it can also be emotional, where victims are made to feel they are controlled, making them jumpy, anxious, depressed, or even suicidal. They often grow reserved or distant from their friends and family as well.
Sexual abuse can also fall under the umbrella of domestic violence. Any time someone has unwanted sexual contact or non-consensual sex with a household or family member, it can be considered domestic abuse.
Finally, financial abuse can also be a precursor to more physical abuse as controlling behavior. If a person restricts access to money to make them dependent on them for financial support, or they take a person’s assets or money, then it can lead to more violent behavior down the road.
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 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.