The state of Illinois takes domestic violence very seriously, but it’s not the only crime. You often hear of sexual violence taking place in the same space as domestic violence, so they are intertwined issues – but two different things legally.
While these two charges may be considered interchangeable, sexual violence can be perpetrated by someone who you are in a relationship with, just like domestic violence. Still, there are differences between these two crimes, particularly when it comes to penalties. Read on to find out more.
Domestic Violence in Illinois
Illinois defines domestic violence as violence perpetrated on members of the household or the family. If a violent act is perpetrated against one of these people, then domestic violence can be charged:
- Former or current spouses
- Those with whom you share children
- Children and stepchildren
- Those with whom you have or currently share a dwelling
- Disabled people and their caretakers
- Those who have previously been involved in a romantic relationship
Some of the acts that often constitute domestic violence include:
- Interfering with another’s job
- Threatening another with violence
- Keeping children away from the other parent
- Preventing a person from leaving
- Forcing sex
- Forcing someone else to watch violent acts against another
- Keeping a handicapped individual from receiving care
If these acts are committed by someone with the relationships previously mentioned, then it can become a charge of domestic violence in Illinois.
The Penalties for Domestic Violence in Illinois
There are several different penalties for charges of domestic violence in Illinois. For example, it’s a Class A misdemeanor to perpetrate domestic battery against someone. A Class A misdemeanor can send you to jail for up to 12 months and make you responsible for fines of as much as $2,500.
Domestic battery can be charged as a Class 4 felony if it is perpetrated under certain circumstances, such as:
- In violation of an order of protection
- Attempting to murder another
- Committing first-degree murder
- Committing aggravated battery or aggravated domestic battery
- Committing aggravated battery with a firearm
- Committing aggravated battery of a child
- Criminal sexual assault
- Unlawful restraint
You can also be charged with a Class 4 felony if you have two prior domestic battery convictions.
Class 4 felonies can send you to prison for up to three years and make you responsible for fines of as much as $25,000.
It’s a Class 3 felony if you have three prior domestic battery convictions. A Class 3 felony can send you to prison for up to five years and make you responsible for fines of as much as $25,000.
What Is Sexual Violence?
Sexual violence occurs when one person is sexually abused by another. There are several forms of sexual violence that can occur, such as sexual assault, rape, child sexual abuse, and sexual exploitation. Just as with domestic violence, it can happen just once, or it can happen numerous times.
Sexual violence occurs with the use of force or threat, and it’s usually against a victim who cannot properly consent. The charges become more serious against someone if:
- There was a deadly weapon used in the commission of the act
- There was great bodily harm caused to the victim
- The victim was killed
- The victim was over the age of 60
- A firearm was discharged during the incident
- The victim was handicapped physically
Penalties for Sexual Violence
Criminal sexual violence can be a Class A misdemeanor, but if force is used, there is a threat of force, or if the act is committed when the victim is unable to give proper consent, then it is a Class 4 felony. It can also be elevated to a Class 2 felony if the offender has been found guilty of a crime of a similar nature in the past.
The same time in jail or prison and fines apply to Class A misdemeanors and Class 4 felonies for sexual violence as they do for domestic violence. Class 2 felonies can send someone to prison for as many as seven years.
Understand the Charges Against You
Being charged for either domestic violence or sexual violence is serious and can send you to jail or prison for years. That’s why it’s important to understand what you are being charged with and what your defense options are.
Bring an experienced attorney on board to help you figure out your best defense options and fully understand why you are being charged. It will be a good move on your part. Remember, you have the right to defend yourself against charges, no matter what they are.
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.