Illinois Updates its Domestic Violence Laws

Domestic violence is a complicated crime. It is often difficult and uncomfortable for domestic violence perpetrators, as well as their victims, to speak about the facts leading up to a domestic violence charge and conviction. Additionally, domestic violence laws are often difficult to understand, with a variety of penalties and consequences. Some penalties and consequences are collateral to the fine or jail sentence an offender may face, and are therefore possibly unforeseen. In Illinois, crimes of domestic violence are treated very seriously, which is underscored by new changes to Illinois criminal laws.

According to the Chicago Tribune, earlier this August, Illinois Governor Pat Quinn took a definitive stance against domestic violence when he signed four new bills into law. The impetus behind the new legislation, according to Governor Quinn, is to protect domestic violence victims (especially women), and to prevent future crimes of domestic violence. The four laws touch on different areas of domestic violence law, and will be effective at different times. It is therefore important for Illinois citizens to understand each bill in turn.

House Bill 958 reports that this bill significantly changes current domestic violence laws in Illinois by classifying domestic violence as a felony in the cases that a defendant has prior domestic violence convictions on his or her record. The Chicago Tribune article notes that under the new law, repeat domestic violence offenders will face harsher penalties. Those with four or more domestic violence convictions will face a Class 2 felony charge, punishable by three to seven years in prison. Repeat domestic violence offenders with three domestic violence convictions will face a Class 3 felony charge and jail time from three to five years.

Under current Illinois domestic violence laws, domestic violence offenders with multiple convictions can be charged with only a Class 4 felony, which is punishable by between one to three years jail time. The tougher penalties will go into effect on January 1 of next year.

House Bill 3379

The second bill will is aimed at teens, and will require Illinois school boards to adopt policies on domestic violence in teen dating. Under the new law, schools must develop and adopt policies for school employees when dealing with teen domestic violence, from the time that they are aware of teen dating violence. The law also requires schools to provide education and awareness about teen domestic violence in dating. This bill took effect immediately.

House Bill 3300

Another bill that will become effective next year in January, will provide further protection to domestic violence victims. The legislation will allow insurance companies to communicate with domestic violence victims confidentially, even when their insurance coverage is through their abuser’s insurance policy. This will prevent domestic violence perpetrators from gaining information about their victims, such as the victim’s current address and other information.

House Bill 3236

Lastly, Governor Quinn signed into law legislation that extends the reporting deadline for the Task Force to Eradicate Domestic Violence, which is currently developing a domestic violence prevention program targeted at domestic violence among young people. Before the legislation was enacted, the deadline was set for last April. Under the new law, the Task Force’s findings will be due next April.

Illinois domestic violence laws contain numerous other complex provisions. A domestic violence conviction can carry with it severe penalties and consequences. If you have been charged with violating Illinois criminal laws, you should immediately seek out an experienced criminal lawyer. Contact Goldman & Associates for a confidential consultation.

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