Illinois has some of the strictest domestic violence laws in the country – enacted to recognize the serious negative impact of domestic violence on thousands of Illinois families and children. Unfortunately, with increased awareness and enforcement surrounding these important domestic violence issues comes a greater chance of wrongful convictions.
Our firm takes domestic violence allegations very seriously, while at the same time understanding that false accusations do occur, especially in emotionally charged situations like child custody disputes. If you find yourself facing domestic violence charges in Chicago, our criminal defense attorneys with experience fighting false claims of family abuse can help you seek to clear your name.
What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Illinois?
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act identifies domestic violence as any abuse – including physical abuse, hitting, kicking, choking, threatening, harassing, intimidating, illegally restraining or interfering with the personal liberty of a family or household member.
Enacted in 1986, the law defines family or household members as including:
- blood relatives
- spouses and ex-spouses
- people who share or have shared a home in the past, even when they are unrelated
- parents who share a child in common
- dating or engaged couples and ex-couples, including same-sex partners
- disabled clients and their caregivers
Illinois Domestic Violence at a Glance
The Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence reported approximately 43,000 adult survivors of domestic violence and 8000 child witnesses in 2015. Women accounted for 90 – 95 percent of victims, though men can suffer family abuse too. Domestic violence occurs within all races, cultures and age groups, but young women in their twenties are the most frequent reporters.
Law Enforcement Responsibilities
The domestic violence laws in Illinois mandate that police arrest alleged perpetrators accused of domestic violence, according to the Illinois State Police. While law enforcement still needs a reason to believe a crime has occurred before making an arrest, the standard relies on the individual officer’s subjective perception, which can be heavily influenced by alleged victim statements.
Under the state domestic violence laws, law enforcement must encourage victims to file charges against those accused of abuse. In many instances, victims later wish to drop criminal charges, but the prosecution in Will County may nonetheless continue.
Domestic Violence Conviction Consequences
Domestic violence in Illinois – sometimes called domestic battery – is a Class A misdemeanor under 720 ILCS 5 and is punishable by up to one year in prison. Penalties increase dramatically for subsequent convictions, and for altercations that involved the use of a firearm, motor vehicle, or other deadly weapon.
A second domestic violence charge is considered a Class 4 felony and carries a penalty of up to 3 years in prison. So-called aggravated assault with a deadly weapon is considered a Class 3 or 4 felony, depending on the weapon involved.
Orders of Protection
In addition to criminal charges, persons accused of domestic violence may have a civil order of protection entered against them, even if no criminal domestic violence trial or conviction occurs. In Illinois, protection orders are usually public record, and can appear during a background check seen by prospective employers, landlords and lenders.
A protection order may bar a person from entering his or her residence or having contact with their children, and temporary emergency orders may be issued without giving the accused an opportunity to defend themselves.
Consult a Domestic Violence Attorney in Chicago
An experienced Chicago criminal defense attorney at the office of David Freidberg will be familiar with the acceptable defenses against wrongful domestic violence allegations, including reasonable self-defense, false accusations, mistaken identity, consensual acts, and lack of evidence, and can fight to restore your reputation and maintain your freedom.