The Difference Between Misdemeanor and Felony Domestic Battery

Under Illinois law, domestic battery is serious offense. Even a first offense can have lasting and permanent damage on the future of someone accused or convicted of this crime. For this reason, it is important to consult an experienced and knowledgeable Chicago criminal defense attorney right away if you or someone you know is facing these charges.

Domestic Battery Explained

State law places domestic battery into two categories: (1) when a defendant causes bodily harm to any family or household member, and (2) when a defendant’s act involves contact of an insulting or provoking nature with any family or household member. In both cases, the government bears the burden of proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the action was committed without legal justification and was intentionally or knowingly done.

A “family or household member includes”:

  • spouses or former spouses;
  • persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling;
  • parents, children/stepchildren, and other persons related by blood or marriage (present or prior);
  • persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, and those who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child;
  • persons who are dating or are engaged; and
  • persons with a disability and their assistant(s)/caregiver(s).

Felony or Misdemeanor

Under Illinois Criminal Code, section 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2, a first offense domestic battery is generally a Class A misdemeanor. The maximum penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in jail and a fine of no more than $2,500.00. The minimum sentence for this charge is a conviction, which cannot be expunged or sealed. In other words, a misdemeanor conviction of domestic battery remains on a person’s permanent criminal record. Unlike other misdemeanors, a defendant charged with a domestic battery is not eligible for court supervision. For these reasons, it is important to hire an aggressive Chicago criminal defense attorney immediately if you or someone you know has been charged with domestic battery.

If the accused has a prior domestic battery conviction, has violated an order of protection, or some other aggravating factor is present, a subsequent charge can be classified as a Class 4 felony. The penalty for a Class 4 felony conviction of domestic battery includes a prison sentence of one to 3 years.

Criminal Defense in Chicago

There may be several possible defenses available to an individual accused of domestic battery. A knowledgeable Chicago criminal defense attorney can carefully examine the fact of your case and determine the best legal strategy for you. Attorney Steven Goldman has years of experience defending clients across the greater Chicago area. Call (773) 484-3131 for an initial consultation.


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