A Cook County man was recently arrested and charged with two counts of aggravated domestic battery for allegedly hitting a woman in the head with a bookcase and attempting to strangle her. If you are thinking that this is your average, everyday case of domestic violence, you are wrong. That’s because the alleged victim in this case was the defendant’s 53-year-old mother.
Chicago Domestic Violence Law
The Illinois domestic violence laws are incredibly broad. Not only do they include a wide variety of criminal offenses – assault, battery and harassment to name a few – but a wide variety of victims as well. No doubt when you imagine the typical domestic dispute, you think of a male/female couple, with the male as the perpetrator and the female as the victim. (Although, as I have discussed before, men can be victims of domestic violence as well). So you are probably wondering how it is possible for a grown man to be charged with committing domestic violence against his mother.
Under Illinois law, a crime can be classified as a domestic dispute if it was carried out against any family or household member. A family or household member may include:
- family members related by blood or adoption (including step-children);
- spouses or former spouses;
- a current of former boyfriend/girlfriend, including same-sex partners;
- disabled individuals and their personal assistants;
- roommates or former roommates; and
- individuals with a child in common.
Illinois Aggravated Domestic Battery
In this case, the defendant was charged with aggravated domestic battery. The crime of domestic battery is the same as battery committed against a non-family or household member; the only difference is who the act is committed against.
In Illinois, a person commits battery if he or she knowingly causes bodily harm or makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature to another person. A battery is elevated to aggravated based on the type of injury or the status of the victim (for example, a battery becomes aggravated if the victim was disabled), but it is unclear from this case where the aggravating factor came into play.
The punishment for domestic and non-domestic battery is the same. Both are Class A misdemeanors punishable by less than one year in prison and up to a $2,500 fine. A conviction of domestic battery, however, may carry federal criminal penalties if the crime involved the possession, transportation, shipment or receival of firearms or ammunition. Additionally, while a defendant can receive supervision for a battery charge, which is not a conviction and can be expunged from his or her record, the same is not the case with regard to domestic battery. A conviction for domestic battery is just that, a conviction, which can never be expunged.
Defense against Illinois Domestic Battery
Would the defense of a domestic battery charge be any different than a regular battery charge?
Not at all. As in any other charge of battery, an attorney would look at all the facts and circumstances to mount the best possible criminal defense. In this case, the alleged battery occurred while the mother was attempting to stop her son from allegedly abusing the mother’s dog. The defense would include looking at whether:
- the defendant was protecting himself from being attacked by the dog;
- the mother, in her attempt to stop the alleged attack on the dog, committed a battery against her son first, causing the son to act in self-defense;
- the injuries sustained by the mother could have been accidentally inflicted by the son as he protected himself from the dog; or
- the mother could have sustained the injuries herself trying to get to her dog, and blamed them on her son when police arrived because of a prior argument.
Regardless of the type of battery, an experienced legal professional will examine all of the evidence to seek a dismissal or reduction of charges. Continue reading