Domestic Battery In Illinois: What You Should Know

Domestic battery in Illinois is serious. Even a first offense can have damaging, permanent effects on your future. Therefore, if you are charged with a domestic battery, it is absolutely critical that you hire an attorney that has experience handling domestic cases.

What is domestic battery?

There are two types of domestic battery offenses in Illinois. The first is when a defendant causes bodily harm to any family or household member. The second involves contact of an insulting and provoking nature with any family or household member. With both types of domestic battery, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the action was committed intentionally or knowingly, and without legal justification.

Who is considered a “family or household member” under the law?

A family or household member includes the following persons:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Parents, children, stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage
  • Persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling
  • Persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child
  • Persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants and caregivers

Is domestic battery a felony or misdemeanor?

In Illinois, a first offense domestic battery is usually a Class A misdemeanor. However, domestic battery can be charged as a Class 4 felony if the defendant has a prior domestic battery conviction, has violated an order of protection, or other aggravating factors are present. The elements of domestic battery are set forth in the Illinois Criminal Code at section 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2.

How is misdemeanor domestic battery different than any other misdemeanor?

For most misdemeanors, a defendant is usually eligible for court supervision if it is their first offense. Court supervision does not count as a conviction and it can typically be expunged or sealed from a defendant’s background.

However, a defendant charged with a domestic battery is not eligible for court supervision. Unfortunately, the mandatory minimum sentence of domestic battery includes a conviction. A conviction for domestic battery is permanent and cannot be expunged or sealed from a defendant’s record. Because of this, domestic battery is often considered to be more serious than other misdemeanors. Hiring the right criminal defense attorney may be able to help you avoid a conviction.

What are the possible consequences of a domestic battery?

Whether a domestic battery is charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction for domestic battery can have a long-lasting and significant impact on your life.

The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of $2,500. Even the minimum sentence for domestic battery is a conviction, which can never be expunged or sealed and, therefore, will remain part of your criminal record. A domestic battery charged as a Class 4 felony carries a sentence of 1 to 3 years in prison.

Are there any defenses? Why hire an attorney?

There are several possible defenses to domestic battery, the most common being self-defense. The right defense attorney will carefully examine all possible defenses and determine the best course of action for you. Most importantly, it is essential to retain a criminal defense attorney that understands the seriousness of a domestic battery charge and has the experience needed to possibly avoid a damaging conviction.