There’s a common narrative in today’s culture surrounding the topic of domestic battery, and there are two key assumptions within it.
The first assumption? Domestic battery involves a man attacking his female partner or children.
The second? Most domestic battery calls lead to arrests and convictions.
Neither of these assumptions is true. Instead, domestic battery is a broad topic, running a gamut of hundreds of scenarios that wind up with law enforcement knocking on doors.
Recently in Chicago, in fact, there were five domestic battery incidents in the same suburb during the same week. Every situation was unique. Furthermore, out of the five incidents, only two arrests were made. The other three incidents were resolved without arrests or charges even being filed at all.
Not Every IL Domestic Violence Call Ends in Criminal Charges
Simply having the police arrive at your home is not a guarantee that arrests will be made. In many cases, police are present simply to help defuse an argument. Officers only make arrests when it is clear a crime has taken place.
When There’s a Lack of Proof
During one, a woman accused another person of throwing a laptop charger at her. The officers at the scene made no arrests because other witnesses had conflicting statements. Furthermore, the woman showed no sign of injury.
This is a primary defense against domestic battery charges — lack of proof equates to having no reason to detain the accused.
When a Victim Chooses Not to Press Charges
The second incident involved an adult accusing a juvenile of punching her and threatening to kill her. Instead of charging the juvenile, officers helped defuse tensions and helped arrange for the juvenile to spend the night with another relative.
In this case, since the accused was a minor, the adult may not have pressed charges. Regardless of evidence found, if the victim of a crime does not press charges, legal action is unlikely.
When the Situation is Resolved Before Police Arrive
The third domestic battery incident involved a late-night call. By the time officers arrived, the alleged instigator of the problem had already left the scene. This prevented domestic battery charges because the incident had been resolved prior to the arrival of the police.
While officers did not charge the man with domestic violence on the scene, he was later pulled over on separate charges for driving drunk, arrested, and brought in on a DUI.
Illinois Domestic Battery Charges and Penalties
The two other events did involve domestic battery charges, and the law outlining domestic battery is specific. This crime only addresses family and household members, separating it from charges of assault.
It is in many ways a more serious crime because victims do not have anywhere else to go to avoid the aggressor.
Comparing Two Chicago Domestic Battery Cases
Looking at the two cases that resulted in charges, there are similarities. In one case, the accused allegedly attacked his male roommate after the roommate asked him to move so the roommate could clean. In the other, the accused allegedly punched the victim and left.
In both of these cases, obvious and definite injuries were observed on the victims. This was the proof needed to press charges in each.
Penalties for Domestic Battery in IL
The penalties for these crimes, however, will vary depending on the accused men’s criminal records. When there are no prior convictions, an Illinois domestic violence charge is a Class A misdemeanor. In that case, they may face up to 364 days in jail and fines up to $2,500.
However, this changes if either of them has prior convictions for:
- Domestic battery
- Attempted murder
- Sexual assault
- Unlawful restraint
When Domestic Battery Becomes a Class 4 Felony
If the accused has a conviction for one of these crimes against a member of their household, domestic battery becomes a Class 4 felony. This leads to a much more serious penalty.
In Illinois, Class 4 felonies can result in up to 3 years in prison and fines of up to $25,000. It also classifies the convicted person as a felon, leading to loss of voting privileges, stigma, and other problems.
When Domestic Battery Becomes Aggravated
Beyond simple domestic battery, there is the potential for aggravated charges. If the incident involves strangulation or causes the victim significant bodily harm or disfigurement, the crime is considered aggravated domestic battery.
This is a Class 2 felony. Class 2 felonies can result in 7 to 14 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of 3 years. Convicted persons also lose their rights to possess firearms.
Not Every IL Domestic Battery Charge Ends in Conviction
However, not every charge of domestic battery leads to a conviction. The burden of proof for an arrest is much lower than for a conviction. An experienced Chicago criminal lawyer can help people charged with domestic battery to avoid conviction and harsh penalties.
Domestic battery calls by no means guarantee charges, or convictions. If you have been accused of domestic battery, you and your lawyer can work together to defeat any potential charges.
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 SuperLawyers, the National Trial Lawyers Association, and other notable organizations, and has spoken at a number of legal conferences.