Domestic Battery in Illinois

Domestic BatteryAn Introduction to Domestic Battery in Illinois

A criminal charge of Domestic Battery is a very serious offense in Illinois.  In recent years, public attention has been focused on Domestic Violence.  I noticed the increased attention on Domestic Violence after the infamous OJ Simpson case.  State legislatures throughout the United States have passed laws which seek to punish crimes like this more severely and to try to put an end to this crime. This is true in Illinois as well.  Laws have been changed to make it easier for a spouse to obtain an Order of Protection.  Laws have been enacted to require the placement of GPS tracking devices on people have been ordered to stay away from victims, penalties for people convicted of Domestic Battery have been stiffened to impose harsher penalties on people convicted of Domestic Battery. Local prosecutors offices have established units within their offices that specialize in prosecuting domestic battery crimes and specific courtrooms have been established in most counties that only handle cases like this.

This article will discuss what the crime of Domestic Battery involves and the possible penalties.

What is Domestic Battery in Illinois

Generally, a Domestic Battery happens when you make contact of a physical or provoking nature with any family or household member.  Family or household members are defined as spouses, parents, children and stepchildren.  Of course you can be guilty of a Domestic Battery by causing physical harm to a family or household member but can also be guilty of a Domestic Battery if the contact was of a physical or provoking nature even if it didn’t cause physical harm.

Most Domestic Batteries are Misdemeanors

The majority of Domestic Batteries are Class A misdemeanors.  The maximum punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in county jail and a maximum fine of up to $2,500.  But what is significant about a misdemeanor conviction for domestic battery is that the charge can never be sealed or expunged.  A conviction for Domestic Battery can never be removed from your record and will follow you around for the rest of your life.  It can be viewed by the public, employers, credit agencies, schools, government, landlords, etc.

When Can a Domestic Battery be a Felony?

A Domestic Battery can be a Class 4 felony if you have been previously convicted of a Domestic Battery or violated an Order of Protection at the time of the Domestic Battery.  A Class 4 felony conviction for Domestic Battery can carry a possible prison sentence of 1 to 4 years in jail.  However, Probation, or Conditional Discharge are alternatives to jail.

What is Aggravated Domestic Battery?

You can be charged with Aggravated Domestic Battery in 2 ways.  First is if great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement is caused by the Domestic Battery.  A second way you can be charged with Aggravated Domestic Battery if you “strangle” someone during the Domestic Battery. “Strangle” is defined as intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of an individual by applying pressure on the throat or neck of that individual or by blocking the nose or mouth of that individual.

What is the Sentence for Aggravated Domestic Battery?

Aggravated Domestic Battery is a Class 2 felony which carries a possible prison sentence of between 3 to 7 years.  Probation is possible for an Aggravated Domestic Battery, however, in addition to any sentence imposed by the Court, if you are convicted of an Aggravated Domestic Battery you must serve a minimum of 60 continuous days in jail.  If this is your second or subsequent conviction for Aggravated Domestic Battery, you will not be eligible for probation and must serve between 3 to 7 years in prison.  Aggravated Domestic Battery is a very serious charge because a conviction for this offense carries a mandatory minimum prison sentence of 60 continuous days.

Conclusion

The Domestic Battery laws in Illinois are pretty straightforward but require that any attorney handling such cases understands what they are doing.  The litigation involved in such cases can be tricky and requires not just an understanding of the various statutes cited above, but of the psychology surrounding these types of cases.  These offenses carry serious consequences.  Unlike most misdemeanors court supervision is not an option in Domestic Battery cases.  This takes away some negotiating options and applies serious consequences that cannot be bargained away.  Some of the felonies carry mandatory prison sentences.  It is critical that you hire an experienced attorney who knows what they are doing.

James Dimeas is an award winning Chicago criminal defense attorney and author with more than 23 years of experience aggressively representing his clients in Domestic Battery cases.  If you have a Domestic Battery case in Illinois, contact me in Chicago (312-229-5500), DuPage and Kane (630-504-2096) or Lake (847-696-6458) for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

Additional Resources:

Illinois Domestic Violence Act.

Illinois Assault and Battery Statute.

Illinois Order of Protection Statute.