Illinois Domestic Battery Law

Domestic battery law in Illinois is governed by 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.

A person commits domestic battery,violence or abuse if he intentionally or knowingly without legal justification by any means causes bodily harm to any family member, household member or someone the person is dating or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family member, household member or person they are dating.

Being charged with domestic battery puts you in a complicated system of both criminal and civil courts. Not only does the defendant have to deal with the criminal charges which could include jail or prison, but an order of protection will automatically be entered against the defendant and he/she must be prepared to defend themselves against the prospect of not having contact with their significant other and possibly their children. The penalties for a domestic battery case can range from misdemeanor to felony sentences.

Domestic battery at the lowest level is a Class A misdemeanor and is punishable by up to 1 year in jail and a $2500 fine. Additionally, domestic battery requires a mandatory conviction and therefore cannot be removed from one’s criminal record through expungement or sealing.

Domestic battery is a Class 4 felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for violating an order of protection or a prior domestic battery or substantially similar offense. A Class 4 felony is punishable by 1-3 years in prison and a $25,000 fine. Additionally, an arrest for domestic battery is a Class 4 felony if the defendant has ever been convicted of a first degree murder, attempt to commit first degree murder, aggravated domestic battery, aggravated battery, heinous battery, aggravated battery with a firearm and many sexual assault offenses.

Furthermore, because of the recurring nature of domestic battery offenses, defendants may be charged with domestic battery by significant others repeatedly. If a defendant has been convicted by a domestic battery in the past, the penalties for a new offense for domestic battery will increase greatly.  In addition to any other sentencing alternatives a defendant may receive from the court, for a second or subsequent conviction for domestic violence, the offender is mandatorily sentenced to a minimum of 72 consecutive hours of imprisonment.

Domestic Battery Committed in the Presence of a Child

Under 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(c), When a domestic battery is committed in the presence of a child, the charges are upgraded and enhanced to felony charges and the offender is required to serve a mandatory minimum imprisonment of 10 days or perform 300 hours of community service, or both. Additionally, the offender is responsible for the cost of any counseling required for the child.

Oftentimes, orders of protection are attached to domestic battery charges, which prohibit the parties from making contact with each other at home, school, work or with other family members for the duration of the case and sometimes for years afterwards. In Illinois, any violation of an order of protection (VOOP) is typically considered to be a Class A misdemeanor and, therefore, is punishable by up to 1 year in prison and a $2,500 fine.

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