Domestic Battery

Chicago Domestic Battery Lawyer

Domestic battery occurs under Illinois law 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2, when a person knowingly and without legal justification:

  • Causes bodily harm to a family or household member; or
  • Makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member.

One of the things that the prosecution has to prove in a domestic battery case is that the victim and the person committing the domestic battery are either family or household members.

Who is a Family or Household Member?

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (750 ILCS 60/101) defines a family or household member is anyone who shares one or more of the following relationships with the person committing the domestic battery:

  • Spouse or a former spouse;
  • Parents and people who share a common child;
  • Children or stepchildren and other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage;
  • People who share or formerly shared a common dwelling;
  • Persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child;
  • Currently and previously dating or engaged couples (casual acquaintances and similar relationships do not qualify as dating for the purposes of this definition); and
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, and caregivers.

The precise definition of a family or household member is important during prosecution. A court can interpret the relationship depending on the facts of a case to determine if it fits in the above definition. For example, Illinois courts have held that a woman living in her boyfriend for a matter of weeks before the domestic battery incident were sharing a dwelling. On the other hand, a couple who lived in a homeless shelter was not “sharing a dwelling” for purposes of the domestic violence law. (People v. Young, 362 Ill. App. 3d 843, 844 (2005).)

Orders of Protection

Victims of domestic violence can ask a court for an order of protection against the person accused of the domestic violence. Domestic battery can qualify as domestic violence. Once issued against a particular person, that person has to follow the requirements of the order of protection, or risk arrest. Violating an order of protection is a class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.4.


Domestic battery can be a class A misdemeanor, or a Class 2 – 4 felony, depending on the defendant’s prior criminal history. If a defendant is convicted of a second or subsequent domestic battery charge, he or she has to serve a mandatory 72 hours in jail, in addition to other sentences that the court may order. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(b).

If a person commits a domestic battery in the presence of a child, the person faces additional penalties, including being ordered to pay for any counseling the child may need, as determined by the court. The defendant may also be required to serve 300 hours of community service, or 10 days in jail or both. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(c).

Contact a Chicago Defense Attorney

If you are facing domestic battery charges, or have been arrested for violating an order of protection, you need an experienced criminal attorney representing you. Contact Chicago’s battery defense attorney Steven Goldman for a consultation today.


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