Typically, domestic violence is not charged as a felony in Illinois. However, there are some circumstances that can cause a domestic violence offense to be viewed in this more serious way.
In this post, we’re going to cover what makes an offense qualify as domestic violence, specific domestic violence acts that result in felony charges, as well as what penalties are associated with felony domestic violence, and what you can do to fight back.
Domestic Violence Offenses in Illinois
For an offense to qualify as domestic violence, it must be committed against someone within an intimate relationship, as defined by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. The following types of relationships that fall under the domestic violence umbrella:
- Current or former spouse
- Current or former dating partner
- Parent or stepparent
- Parents of the same child
- Relatives connected by blood
- Current or former roommate
- Caregiver for a disabled and/or elderly adult
If you cause physical harm or use provoking or unlawful physical contact against someone in an intimate relationship, you can be charged with domestic battery. First time sentencing for domestic battery is a class A misdemeanor. However, it can be raised to a felony if you have prior violent crime convictions.
You could face a class 4 felony charge for domestic battery if you have previously been convicted of any of the following offenses against members of your family or household:
- Aggravated domestic battery
- Unlawful restraint
- Committing battery against a child
- Committing sexual assault during domestic battery
- Committing battery while using a firearm
You can also face a class 4 felony charge for violating a protective order. A class 4 felony conviction will result in a sentence of up to six years in jail and a fine of up to $25,000.
A charge of aggravated domestic battery will apply to a case of domestic battery that involves any of the following factors:
- Knowingly causing great bodily harm
- Causing permanent disfigurement or disability
- Using strangulation while committing domestic battery
Aggravated domestic battery is charged as a class 2 felony. If you are convicted for a class 2 felony in Illinois, you will face three to seven years in prison for a first offense. You may be eligible for probation, but you will be required to serve no less than 60 days in prison.
If you have a prior conviction for aggravated domestic battery, you will be required to serve the full three- to seven-year prison sentence. Additionally, the prosecution can push for up to 14 years in prison if certain criteria are met.
Additional Consequences for a Felony Domestic Violence Conviction in Illinois
If you are convicted for felony domestic violence, you will not only be required to serve time and pay high fines. There are many other adverse consequences associated with a felony conviction.
In Illinois, a conviction for domestic battery cannot be sealed or expunged. This means it will stay on your permanent record. You may have trouble securing loans, finding a job, renting an apartment, or buying a home. These are just some examples. Simply put, a felony conviction has a serious negative impact on your overall quality of life.
You will also be denied other rights, such as the right to vote and the right to possess or purchase firearms. The right to buy or possess firearms is revoked for anyone with a conviction for domestic violence, whether it is a misdemeanor or felony.
If you have children, your custody rights could be permanently revoked. You may also be prohibited from contacting the victim if a continuing protection order is in place.
Because a felony conviction has such serious consequences, it’s crucial to consult with an experienced Chicago criminal attorney as soon as charges are filed against you.
Fighting Back against Illinois Domestic Violence Charges
A skilled lawyer will work to get your charges reduced or dropped, which can save you from the harsh consequences of a felony conviction. Your attorney may be able to use one or more of the following defenses to help you.
- You acted in self-defense.
- There is not enough evidence to support the plaintiff’s claims.
- The plaintiff made a false accusation against you.
- The plaintiff acted with consent.
- You are willing to enter a rehabilitation or treatment program.
- There are no aggravating factors, so your charges should be reduced to a misdemeanor.
There is a big difference between facing a felony domestic violence charge and facing a misdemeanor. Regardless of your situation, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to put up the strongest possible defense against your charges to get them reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
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.