Battery means that you make unwanted physical contact with another person that is provoking, insulting, or that causes bodily harm. Battery against anyone is against the law, however the laws of Illinois specifically address battery against a household member by creating a separate offense of “domestic battery.” Domestic battery cases have some unique elements and consequences, so you always want to hire a Chicago criminal defense lawyer who has experience with this particular type of case if you are facing domestic battery charges.

Elements of Domestic Battery

In order to be convicted of domestic battery, a prosecutor must prove the following elements:

  • The victim was a household member; and
  • You made contact of an insulting or provoking nature OR you caused bodily harm.

Note that you do not have to cause harm to be convicted of domestic battery. Additionally, you can be charged with causing harm if you only caused very minimal harm. For example, someone may only have bruises or red marks and a prosecutor can charge you with causing bodily harm. If you are charged with causing bodily harm, your penalties will be increased if you are convicted. Furthermore, you will not be eligible for a shortened jail sentence due to good behavior. Instead, you will be required to serve the full time sentenced to you by the court.

Penalties for Domestic Battery

Domestic battery is generally charged as a Class A misdemeanor in Illinois. A Class A misdemeanor can mean up to one year in county jail as well as fines. However, the charges can increase to felony charges under many different sets of circumstances. For example, the charge may be more severe if you have prior domestic battery convictions or other certain violent convictions on your criminal record. A Class 4 felony can mean one to three years in prison, while a Class 3 felony can carry a sentence of two to five years in prison.

In addition to jail time and fines, domestic battery charges may have an effect on many other aspects of your life. For example, you may face a restraining order, which could keep you from going near your significant other or children. Domestic battery also often comes into play in family law cases involving custody of your children or spousal support. In fact, many people falsely accuse their spouse of domestic battery in order to get a better custody determination. In such cases, your attorney can present evidence that the claims are false.

If you have been arrested for or charged with any type of domestic battery charge, you should always take these charges seriously. An attorney who is experienced with this type of case can help to get your case dismissed, have the penalties mitigated, and limit the effects of such charges on all other aspects of your life. Attorney Steven Goldman has extensive experience with this type of case and will work to provide the highest quality of defense in every individual situation. If you are facing charges, call Goldman & Associates for assistance with your case today.