If you have been charged with a domestic violence crime, you need to know the extent of your charges. When does a charge of domestic violence cross over into aggravated domestic violence in Illinois? It depends on the specifics of how the crime occurred and what exactly happened.
Non-Aggravated Domestic Violence Charges
Domestic violence is classified as a misdemeanor when one person commits or threatens violence against a family or household member. Actual physical violence, threats of violence, and verbal or emotional abuse are all included in this classification.
If a charge of domestic violence is filed, it must be proven that the crime occurred within one of these 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 often includes assault and battery charges. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, battery is defined as “physical harm caused to another person or an unwanted, insulting, or provoking physical contact.” Assault is an attempt at battery or the threat of battery without physical contact. An assault charge involves imminent danger.
Charges of domestic violence may or may not include other crimes like kidnapping, sexual assault, and rape. It all depends on your specific set of circumstances.
A charge of domestic battery must be proven as intentional. For example, if an individual was stabbed or punched, the charge of domestic battery applies. If you acted in self-defense, acted in defense of another person, or engaged in mutual combat, the battery is not intentional and charges may be dropped.
Domestic violence misdemeanors usually result in fines and up to one year of jail time. Additional legal consequences include loss of custody or visitation rights and limited ability to obtain housing or employment. Those convicted of domestic violence misdemeanors also lose the right to own firearms. If a restraining order has been filed against the defendant, gun ownership rights will be lost.
Aggravated Domestic Violence Charges
Acts of domestic violence are classified as felonies if they involve aggravating factors such as criminal acts toward minors, violent acts or threats involving a deadly weapon, and criminal acts involving sexual abuse.
A domestic violence charge can be increased to aggravated domestic battery under certain conditions. If the defendant caused great bodily harm to the alleged victim or if permanent disfigurement or disability resulted from the battery, a charge of aggravated domestic battery may be filed.
The term “great bodily harm” is open to interpretation by the judge and jury, and depends on the circumstances surrounding the case. It involves more than lacerations, bruises, and abrasions, according to Illinois appellate courts.
Aggravated domestic battery charges also may be filed if strangulation was involved.
Legally speaking, strangulation is the intent to block breathing or blood circulation by using pressure on an individual’s throat or neck, or by blocking the nose or mouth of the individual. Aggravated domestic battery will be filed no matter the length of the act of strangulation.
The charge of aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony in Illinois. If an individual is convicted of three crimes of domestic violence, the third offense may also be charged as a felony.
If you are convicted of aggravated domestic battery in Illinois, you are not eligible for good-time credit for the mandatory 60 days in county jail. A sentence includes incarceration with the Illinois Department of Corrections of between 3 and 7 years, and may be extended up to 14 years. Probation is available for first time offenders and carries stipulations, and rehabilitation courses are mandatory. Additional fines of up to $25,000 may apply.
The court process includes a first hearing to determine whether a temporary restraining order is necessary. Then a full hearing will decide whether the domestic violence occurred. Further remedies may be imposed, including restraining order permanency, loss of custodial rights, and additional prosecution.
An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you develop a defense to either domestic violence or aggravated domestic violence charges. Your lawyer will be able to look at the facts of your case and help you to develop a strong defense strategy designed to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed, or if the case goes to trial, to earn you a favorable verdict. Reach out now to start planning your defense.
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.