Couples, family members, and people who are in a close relationship don’t always get along. Most of the time, even when they argue, fight, and say things they don’t mean, they’re usually forgive each other and move on.
If your argument or fight turns violent, however, you could be charged with a domestic battery offense under Illinois domestic violence laws. And depending on your history and the nature of the offense, you could be facing either a misdemeanor or felony charge.
For an incident to be considered domestic violence in the first place, the defendant and the victim have be involved or have previously been involved in some type of relationship. The types of relationships covered by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act include:
- Spouses or ex-spouses
- People who are dating or who used to date
- Parent and child or stepparent and stepchild
- Individuals who have a child together
- Blood relatives through a child
- Family members
- Current or former roommates in a shared house
- Adult and their caregiver
If you have committed an act of domestic violence, you can be charged with domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery based upon the circumstances of the offense. Battery involves any physical harm caused to a person, or any uninvited, insulting, or provoking physical contact.
Domestic battery. Domestic battery is committed if the nature of the crime aligns with the legal definition of battery and if the defendant had a relationship with the victim as outlined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.
Domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $2,500 and up to one year in jail. If you have a prior domestic battery conviction or if the domestic battery also involved a firearm, child, or sexual assault, you could be charged with a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by a fine up to $25,000 and 1 to 3 years in jail. A prosecutor may also seek an extended sentence if the defendant has a criminal history.
Aggravated domestic battery. Domestic battery charges can be increased to aggravated domestic battery charges if the defendant intended to cause great bodily harm or the crime resulted in permanent disfigurement or disability. If the defendant strangled the victim by choking his or her neck or prevented the victim’s ability to breathe, this could also lead to aggravated domestic battery charges.
Aggravated domestic battery in Illinois is a Class 2 felony, which is punishable by a fine up to $25,000 and 3 to 7 years in jail. If the defendant is granted probation, they must still serve at least 60 days in jail.
A defendant who was previously convicted of an aggravated domestic battery charge will have to serve a mandatory 3 to 7 years in jail with an extended sentence ranging from 7 to 14 years in jail.
If you are convicted of either domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery, you also will be prohibited from possessing, shipping, receiving, or transporting any type of firearm or ammunition, and may face federal criminal charges under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, which was amended to include domestic violence offenders in 1996.
If you are facing a domestic battery charge, you should contact a top Chicago domestic battery attorney with a proven track record to help defend your rights and the charges you’re up against.
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.