On June 19 of this year, a Carbondale, IL man was convicted of domestic battery. The convicted man is currently awaiting sentencing, where he may face up to six years in the Illinois Department of Corrections.
Though traditionally a misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in jail, in the case of the above mentioned defendant, a previous criminal record resulted in a much harsher sentence for the defendant. If you’ve been accused of domestic battery, an attorney experienced in domestic violence cases can use their knowledge to work against prosecutors seeking harsher punishments such as this.
Despite being technically classified as a Class A misdemeanor for first time offenders, domestic battery is treated a little bit different in the state of Illinois than other Class A misdemeanors, such as DUIs, possession of cannabis, and retail theft. For example, these misdemeanors offer the opportunity for court supervision, something that is not counted as a conviction, and can later be expunged from your record. Domestic battery, however, requires a conviction, and this is something that cannot be expunged or sealed.
What makes a Battery charge “Domestic”?
Battery charges are classified as “domestic” when the victim of the violence is a family or household member – it’s as simple as that. Domestic battery is often punished more severely than battery between two strangers, as prosecutors believe the perpetrator is taking advantage of the victim’s trust and confidence.
Other relationships that are considered domestic are:
- Individuals who are dating currently or have dated in the past
- Parents who have a child in common
- Individuals related by blood through a child
- Current or former roommates in a shared dwelling
- Disabled or elderly adult and caregiver
But the complications don’t end there. In Illinois, there’s not just regular battery and domestic battery – we also have two different types of domestic battery.
Which Type of Domestic Battery Have You Been Charged With?
The difference between the two types of domestic battery in Illinois boils down to whether or not the contact left some kind of mark. These charges are found under sections 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1) and (a)(2).
The first type requires bodily harm to a family or household member. Bodily harm can be any form of injury, such as cuts, scrapes, bruises, or marks of redness. Any resulting mark or injury, no matter how minor, constitutes bodily harm.
The second type of domestic battery involves contact of an insulting or provoking nature with a family or household member. This sort of contact includes things like shoving, slapping, spitting, and any other unwanted and violent physical acts that do not leave marks.
Therefore, any physical contact, regardless of severity, can result a battery charge.
Penalties for Both Types of Domestic Battery
The two types of domestic battery also differ in the severity of punishment.
Misdemeanors can result in up to a year in jail and a maximum fine of $2500. There are additional mandatory minimum penalties for battery crimes.
It should also be noted that in Illinois, crimes that involve bodily harm eliminate the possibility of early release. Under the County Jail Good Behavior Act, people serving time in Illinois jails are eligible for early release by accumulating “good behavior” credits during their sentence. But those convicted of domestic battery involving in bodily harm are not eligible for this possibility. Instead, they must serve out the entirety of their sentence—also known as “straight time.”
Other factors, as in the case mentioned at the beginning of the article, can result in battery charges being upgraded to a felony status. Obviously, felonies carry much harsher punishments than misdemeanors.
In the state of Illinois, the law requires that individuals with past convictions of domestic battery automatically be prosecuted for Class 4 felonies. Additionally, the battery charge can gain Class 4 felony status if it involves one of the circumstances detailed under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.
Examples include domestic battery involving a child, battery involving a firearm, and battery involving sexual assault. Class 4 felonies in Illinois can result in a sentence of one to three years of imprisonment, although prosecutors may push for increased sentences.
Defending Against Both Kinds of Domestic Battery Charges
In both instances, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt the crime was committed knowingly or intentionally, and without legal justification. Prosecutors also must prove the two individuals involved have one of the relationships that qualifies as domestic. Domestic battery attorneys may seek to disprove this relationship, or to prove that the accused was acting in self-defense or the defense of another individual .
The court system is tough on domestic crime in Chicago and throughout the state of Illinois. Either one of the two types of domestic battery charges can have a lasting impact on your career, reputation, and overall quality of life. If you’ve been charged with domestic battery, it is critical to hire a domestic violence lawyer with a track record of success.
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.