Illinois Domestic Violence Laws

By , Contributing Author

In Illinois, certain violent actions are classified as domestic violence crimes when committed against family or household members. A conviction for a domestic violence crime may result in prison time and a fine for the defendant. Furthermore, a victim of a domestic violence crime may obtain a protective order that substantially affects the offender's rights.

Domestic Violence Offenses

In order for a crime to constitute domestic violence, the aggressor and the victim must be "family or household members", defined as follows:

  • current or former spouses
  • parents, children, stepchildren and others persons who are related by blood or by marriage
  • people who currently share or formerly shared a dwelling
  • people who have a child in common
  • people in a dating or engagement relationship, and
  • people with disabilities and their caregivers.

(725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/112A-3)

Domestic Battery

A person commits domestic battery by intentionally causing bodily harm to a family or household member or by making physical contact in an insulting or provocative way with a family or household member. Domestic battery is punished as a Class A misdemeanor; however, domestic battery is a Class 4 felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for domestic battery or for violating an order of protection. Domestic battery is also a Class 4 felony if the defendant has a prior conviction for committing any one of a number of violent crimes against a family or household member, such as murder, aggravated domestic battery, kidnapping or unlawful restraint.

While a Class A misdemeanor carries a possible maximum sentence of less than a year and a $2,500 fine, a Class 4 felony carries up to six years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.2; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. § § 5/5-4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50, 5/5-4.5-55)

Aggravated Domestic Battery

If, in committing domestic battery, the defendant causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement, the defendant is guilty of aggravated domestic battery. Aggravated domestic battery also occurs where a defendant strangles the victim during the commission of domestic battery.

Aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony. Any sentence that includes probation or conditional discharge must also include a condition requiring the defendant to be incarcerated for a minimum of 60 days. If the defendant has one or more prior convictions for aggravated domestic battery, the judge must sentence the defendant to a minimum of three years in prison.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.3)

Interfering with the Reporting of Domestic Violence

A person commits the offense of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence by committing domestic violence and then preventing or attempting to prevent the victim or a witness from calling 911, reporting the incident to law enforcement, or obtaining medical help. Interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is a Class A misdemeanor.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.5)

Protective Orders

In Illinois, a person (referred to as the petitioner) may file a petition asking a court to issue an order that protects the petitioner from an abusive family or household member (referred to as the respondent). The respondent will have a chance to contest the petition in court. A protective order can last up to two years.

The order may include provisions that prohibit the respondent from harassing, intimidating, and physically abusing the petitioner. The order may also award exclusive use of a residence to the petitioner and require the respondent to leave and stay away from the residence. The order may contain a number of other provisions, including ones that award temporary child custody or require the respondent to undergo counseling.

(725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/112A-14)

Emergency Orders of Protection

A judge may issue an emergency order without giving the respondent a chance to contest the matter in court. This happens when the petitioner establishes that the harm that the petition seeks to prevent is likely to occur if the respondent is given notice of the petitioner's efforts to obtain protection. An emergency order cannot include provisions that require the respondent to pay for counseling, legal custody, support, or compensation to the petitioner.

(725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/112A-17)

Violation of an Order of Protection

Violating a protective is a crime. A respondent commits it by acting or failing to act in violation of provisions that pertain to:

  • physical abuse, harassment, intimidation, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation,
  • exclusive possession of the petitioner's residence,
  • the respondent staying away from the petitioner or any other persons protected by the order, or staying away from the petitioner's residence, workplace, school, or other place specified in the order,
  • the respondent posing a threat to the petitioner or petitioner's children by entering or remaining at the residence while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or
  • the respondent possessing firearms.

If the respondent's violation of a protective order is also a crime in itself, the respondent can be charged with both the crime of violating the protective order and the crime that constituted the violation.

A respondent also commits the crime of violating a protective order by committing child abduction, in violation of a protective order's provisions pertaining to the physical care and possession of a child, temporary legal custody, or prohibitions against removing the child from the state or concealing the child within Illinois.

Violating a protective order is a Class 4 felony if the respondent has a prior conviction for violation of a protective order, domestic battery, or a violent crime (such as murder, kidnapping, or sexual abuse) where the victim was a family or household member. Otherwise, the violation of a protective order is considered a Class A misdemeanor.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.4, 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/112A-23)

Consult An Attorney

If you are charged with a domestic violence crime in Illinois, you should immediately speak with an attorney. Domestic violence convictions can carry serious penalties, including prison time and substantial fines. A skilled attorney will provide invaluable guidance throughout your case while working to protect your rights. An attorney can also defend you if a household or family member seeks to have a protective order issued against you.

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