Aggravated Domestic Battery

Man covering the mouth of woman during domestic abuse

Aggravated domestic battery under Illinois law (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3) is defined in two ways:

  1. When in the commission of a domestic battery, a person knowingly or intentionally causes great bodily harm, or permanent disability or disfigurement to another.
  2. When a person committing domestic battery strangles another.

To strangle someone under this definition means intentionally blocking the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of a person by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of that person. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(a-5). Note that even one incidence of strangulation or choking is enough for a conviction of aggravated domestic battery, and the duration of the strangulation does not matter.

A Chicago defense lawyer can explain how domestic battery is a separate crime that is defined as knowingly causing bodily harm to, or making physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with, a family or household member. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2. The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (750 ILCS 60/101) defines who qualifies as a family or household member for purposes of the domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery charges. The definition includes dating couples, as well as people who live together, and caretakers to other household or family members with disabilities.

If the injuries sustained by a person claiming to be a victim of aggravated domestic battery are not serious enough, the charges could be reduced to domestic battery. Illinois law requires injuries that are more serious than bruises, lacerations or abrasions for injuries to be considered great bodily harm. However, certain bruising or swelling or other signs of strangulation around the neck area, or bruising and swelling around the nose or mouth of the alleged victim of domestic battery could be used to prove the crime under the second definition. Therefore, even with just bruising, a person may be convicted of aggravated battery.

Additionally, in accepting evidence of injuries sufficient to be considered great bodily harm, the court may go beyond the alleged victim’s testimony alone, and look at the facts of the case. For example, in a case where the victim testified that she only suffered minor injuries, the court can rely on additional medical evidence of the victim’s injuries to convict the defendant of aggravated domestic battery. However, when the outcome of a case depends heavily on a victim’s testimony, and there is no additional evidence, an experienced defense attorney can properly question the victim to arrive at the truth.


Aggravated domestic battery is a class 2 felony in Illinois and is generally punishable by between 3 to 7 years in prison. However, the sentence could be extended to up to 14 years in prison. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.3(b). Probation is available for first offenses; however, if the person is convicted for a second or subsequent aggravated domestic battery offense, the person must be sentenced to between 3 to 14 years as applicable. If probation or conditional discharge is given, a person convicted of this crime must serve a mandatory 60 consecutive days imprisonment. Additional fines imposed as part of the sentence can be up to $25,000.

Contact a Chicago Defense Lawyer

If you are arrested on charges of aggravated domestic battery, contact experienced criminal defense attorney Steven Goldman immediately for a consultation on your case.

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