Se Habla Español | Available 24/7
Multilingual Staff | Available 24/7

Understanding Domestic Violence Charges in Illinois

Domestic Violence Crimes in Illinois

You may get angry during a heated conversation with your spouse, parent, or any other member of your household. But, if your anger results in the physical punching, sexual abuse, harassment, or intimidation of that individual, you may be guilty of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a serious crime under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. It is an offense committed against a family or household member. Domestic violence convictions have serious, permanent consequences on your personal life, including a criminal record.

Read on to find out more about domestic violence charges in Illinois, the legal justification for such crimes, and how to defend against them.

Types of Domestic Violence Charges

Domestic violence offenses in Illinois can take various forms, the most common being physical abuse. Other types of domestic violence charges include:

  1. Sexual Abuse: This involves forcing or threatening a household member to engage in any form of sexual conduct. It also includes subjecting someone to unwanted, non-consensual sexual behavior.

  2. Emotional Abuse: This type of abuse revolves around the use of words and actions to inflict pain, fear, and intimidation on a domestic partner. The offender may threaten violence or harm against the victim, their children, pets, or property.

  3. Harassment: Verbal or physical harassment directed towards a domestic partner can lead to charges of domestic violence. Such acts include stalking and making repeated phone calls with the intent to intimidate.

  4. Intimidation: Using threats of violence or other forms of coercion to frighten a household member is considered domestic violence. This type of charge can also be applied to situations where the offender attempts to control or manipulate the victim’s actions.

Definition of Family or Household Member Under Domestic Violence Laws in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a domestic violence claim involves the following relationships:

  • Children

  • Disabled persons and their caregivers

  • Former spouses

  • Parents

  • People who have a child in common

  • People who previously shared a residence

  • People who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship (regardless of their gender)

  • Spouses

  • Stepchildren

The Illinois domestic violence statute considers these individuals as family or household members. This means that any act of violence, harassment, intimidation, or abuse against them can result in domestic violence charges.

Actions That Constitute Abuse in Illinois

Under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, abuse may include the following acts:

  • Concealing a minor from their parent

  • Creating a disturbance at a person’s school or job

  • Forcing a child to watch abusive acts

  • Forcing a person to engage in conduct against their will

  • Forcing an individual to engage in sexual conduct 

  • Harassing someone by telephone at their home or workplace

  • Intentionally depriving a person with a disability of medical care

  • Physical abuse, such as punching, hitting, or shoving

  • Predatory criminal sexual assault of a minor

  • Preventing someone from leaving

  • Stalking someone in a public place or at their home

  • Threatening an individual

A parent’s reasonable direction of a minor child will not constitute abuse.

Domestic Battery in Illinois

A person commits domestic battery when they intentionally cause bodily harm to a household or family member. Making physical contact in an insulting or provoking nature is also considered domestic battery. It is categorized as a Class A misdemeanor with a punishment of up to twelve months imprisonment and as much as $2,500 in fines.

Domestic Battery as Felonies

Domestic battery cases become a Class 4 felony for the following reasons:

  1. You have a previous conviction for a substantially similar offense under the laws of another jurisdiction.

  2. You have a prior conviction for violating a protective order.

A Class 4 felony is punishable by up to one to three years in prison and fines of up to $25,000.

Having three prior convictions of domestic battery is a Class 3 felony. The penalty for a Class 3 felony is between two and five years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.

A domestic battery case becomes a Class 2 felony if you have four or more prior domestic battery convictions. Class 2 felonies are punishable by three to seven years and a fine of up to $25,000.

If a felony domestic battery occurs in front of a minor, the defendant must perform at least 300 hours of community service or be imprisoned for at least ten days. The judge may also order both imprisonment and community service. The court may also require the accused to cover the cost of any counseling the child needs following the incident.

Aggravated Domestic Battery in Illinois

A domestic battery may be categorized as an aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3) in certain circumstances. Knowingly causing great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement is aggravated domestic battery. You may also be charged for aggravated battery in strangulation cases.

Aggravated domestic battery is considered a Class 2 felony in Illinois. It carries a mandatory minimum jail sentence of sixty days when probation or conditional discharge is granted. Second or subsequent violations carry a mandatory jail sentence of three to seven years.

What Are Protective Orders?

Protective orders (restraining orders) protect victims from abuse or harassment. They are granted by the court to a family or household member of the abuser. The court may grant an emergency, interim or plenary order of protection.

The judge may grant an emergency order to remove you from a shared home. But, they must be convinced that the danger of abuse outweighs the hardship you will face after removal. The order will generally last for 2-3 weeks until a full hearing for a plenary order of protection.

The judge may grant an interim order after the expiration of an emergency order before the court hearing takes place. The defendant must receive notice of the court hearing before the victim can apply for an interim order. Interim orders can last up to thirty days.

Plenary orders are granted after a court hearing where evidence from both parties is presented. They can last up to two years and may be renewed after the expiry of the two-year period. They may include provisions addressing child custody, mandatory treatment, or counseling.

Illinois Domestic Violence Charges Defenses

domestic violence defense lawyer may apply several defense strategies in domestic violence cases, including:

  • Actual innocence: This defense involves providing evidence that you did not commit the offense. This includes presenting witness statements or alibi to support your claim.

  • False accusation: The victim may fabricate stories maliciously. You can show that the accusation is false by presenting evidence of contradictory statements.

  • Accident: This may be a viable defense if you had no intention of abusing the victim.

  • Self-defense: You may use this defense if your actions were in self-defense due to the victim’s actions. Photographs of injuries showing how the victim attacked you can support this defense.

  • Investigative errors: How a police officer handles a case can be challenged in court. You may apply this defense if you were not read your rights or the officer abused you.

  • Violent Victim: You can show that the victim was violent towards you or your children because of their temper.

Speaking With an Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer

The state of Illinois takes domestic violence cases very seriously. These crimes have life-changing severe consequences, especially a felony domestic violence conviction. So, working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is in your interest.

You are innocent until proven guilty, and prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you are guilty. A good criminal defense lawyer can cast reasonable doubt on the prosecution’s evidence and prevent conviction.

The Hirsch Law Group can protect your rights throughout your case. We understand criminal law and its processes and can represent you in court. We can carefully study the facts of your case and determine the applicable defenses. Additionally, we can present evidence to help reduce or dismiss your charges.

If you have been accused of a domestic violence crime in Illinois, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.