Experts say domestic violence is often rooted in the need for power and control. The recent lockdowns from COVID-19 are certainly a situation that can lead to a loss of both. So it makes sense that one dire consequence has been a rise in domestic violence cases.
Being relegated to your Chicago home with all of your immediate family for longer periods than you’ve likely spent together in a while is enough on its own. Add a loss of employment, a reduction in household income, and any other stresses you might be feeling from the current state of affairs.
We understand how this could be a recipe for the spike in domestic violence incidents. For repeat offenders, this is also the right formula for intensifying your usual triggers.
If you do wind up letting the stress get the better of you, whether things truly get out of hand or not, reach out for legal advice. In the meantime, understanding Illinois domestic violence laws and the penalties for breaking them could go a long way toward seeking a better way to cope.
How Illinois Defines Domestic Violence
A few different laws surrounding domestic violence exist in the state of Illinois. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act outlines domestic violence as any abuse occurring between family members.
Abuse, itself is defined by the statutes as “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation…interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation” of any family member.
Note, Illinois law does not include the reasonable direction of minor children by a parent or other type of guardian.
Who is Considered a Family Member?
The definition of a dependent or family member or member of a household is also clearly laid out in the law. The Act states that the category of people includes all of the following:
- Spouses and former spouses
- Parents, children, and other blood relations
- Stepchildren by a present or prior marriage
- Any adults who have (or allegedly have) a child in common
- Those who share or formerly shared a common dwelling
- Those who had or have a dating or engagement relationship
- Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers
Illinois Domestic Violence Charges and Penalties
There are actually very few specific crimes outlined in Illinois law for domestic violence. Instead, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act is designed to recognize the significance of other crimes committed against those we have a far more intimate relationship with than anyone else.
The penalties addressed in the laws are typically two-fold. They are either meant to temporarily detain the accused for a cool-down or sort-out period. Or enhancements to penalties outlined for the same crimes when committed against persons other than family members.
Let’s take a look at two of the most common crimes specifically associated with domestic violence here in Illinois.
The crime of domestic battery is considered a Class A misdemeanor. The penalty for a class A misdemeanor is a maximum of nearly a year in jail, a fine not to exceed $2,500, or both.
Domestic battery can be elevated to a Class 4 felony in some instances, such as if a person has previously been convicted of domestic battery. A conviction can triple your prison sentence and leave you with a $25,000 fine maximum.
Aggravated domestic battery is when a defendant causes great bodily harm to a family member. It is a Class 2 felony that carries 3 to 7 years in jail and a $25,000 fine.
Interfering with the Reporting of Domestic Violence
The crime of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence occurs when a person who has committed domestic violence then attempts to prevent the victim or a witness from reporting the crime. This is considered a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a year maximum in jail plus a fine of $2,500.
Domestic violence is a serious crime that can wind up costing you years of your life and thousands in fines. We know it’s hard, but it is also important to find ways to remain rooted and confident even during stressful situations.
If you need help figuring out how to avoid potential triggers or learn ways to face them head-on, reach out to a professional counselor. Ultimately, even when it may not feel like it at the moment, the penalties for domestic violence are far worse than your current situation.
About the Author
Sami Azhari has been working as a lawyer since 2007, after receiving his Juris Doctor from the Michigan State University College of Law. He has handled numerous state and federal cases and is known throughout the Chicago and Rolling Meadows area for providing his clients with high-quality, skilled representation. He has been recognized by Avvo (2013 and 2018), SuperLawyers (2015-2020), The National Trial Lawyers, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.