Illinois Domestic Violence Laws

The basics of Illinois' domestic violence crimes and penalties.

By , Attorney (Georgia State University College of Law)
Updated by Rebecca Pirius, Attorney · Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Updated September 06, 2023

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, fines, protection orders, and loss of gun rights.

What Is Domestic Violence in Illinois?

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 other persons who are related by blood or marriage (current or former)
  • people who currently share or formerly shared a dwelling
  • people who have a child in common
  • people who are or were in a dating or engagement relationship, and
  • people with disabilities and their caregivers.

Domestic violence crimes in Illinois include domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, interference with a domestic violence 911 call, and violation of an order of protection.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat § 5/12-0.1; 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/112A-3 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Domestic Battery in Illinois?

A person commits domestic battery by intentionally:

  • causing bodily harm to a family or household member, or
  • making physical contact in an insulting or provocative way with a family or household member.

These acts of battery can include shoving, hair pulling, arm twisting, hitting, slapping, kicking, shaking, stabbing, or cutting someone (among other acts). Bodily harm generally refers to lacerations, bruises, abrasions, and pain (even if not visible). If a person suffers more serious harm, the crime becomes aggravated domestic battery.

Misdemeanor Domestic Battery for First Conviction

A first conviction for domestic battery results in a class A misdemeanor, which carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Felony Domestic Battery for Repeat Convictions

A defendant who has prior violent convictions against a family or household member will face felony penalties for domestic battery. These prior convictions include domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, and protection order violations, as well as any of the following crimes committed against a family or household member—battery, aggravated battery, first-degree murder (or attempt), sexual assault and abuse crimes, arson, kidnapping, unlawful restraint, and unlawful discharge of a firearm.

Class 4 felony. A defendant with one or two prior violent convictions will face a class 4 felony, punishable by 1 to 4 years in prison (or 3 to 6 years for an extended term).

Class 3 felony. Having three prior violent convictions increases the penalty to a class 3 felony, which carries 2 to 5 years of prison time (or 5 to 10 years for an extended term).

Class 2 felony. A defendant who has four or more prior violent convictions faces a class 2 felony with penalties of 3 to 7 years in prison (or 7 to 14 years for an extended term).

Mandatory jail time. For a repeat conviction of domestic battery, a judge must order a defendant to spend a minimum of 72 consecutive hours in jail.

Presence of a child. Committing a felony crime of domestic violence in the presence of a child younger than 18 carries additional penalties. A defendant must serve at least 10 days in jail, perform 300 hours of community service, or do both. Plus the defendant will be liable for the cost of any child counseling.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.2; 730 Ill. Comp. Stat. §§ 5/5-4.5-35, 5/4.5-40, 5/4.5-45, 5/5-4.5-50, 5/5-4.5-55 (2023).)

What Are the Penalties for Aggravated Domestic Battery in Illinois?

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 when a defendant strangles the victim during the commission of domestic battery.

Aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony, punishable by 3 to 7 years in prison (or 7 to 14 years for an extended term). 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 3 years and up to 7 years in prison or to an extended term of 7 to 14 years in prison.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.3 (2023).)

Other Domestic Violence Crimes in Illinois

While there are certainly more domestic violence crimes, two specific ones in Illinois involve violating orders of protection and interfering with 911 calls.

Interfering With the Reporting of Domestic Violence

A person who commits domestic violence and then attempts to stop the victim or a witness from calling 911, obtaining medical help, or reporting the crime can face additional charges. The offense of interfering with the reporting of domestic violence is a Class A misdemeanor.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.5 (2023).)

Violating a No Contact or Protection Order

In Illinois, a victim of domestic violence may ask the court to issue an order that protects the victim from an abusive family or household. The order may include provisions that prohibit the accused from contacting, harassing, intimidating, or physically abusing the victim. A protective order may also direct the alleged abuser to move out of any shared residence.

Violating any of these provisions is a crime. A first violation is a class A misdemeanor and any subsequent violations are class 4 felonies. Having prior convictions for domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or any of the more than 20 crimes listed in statute against a family or household member also counts toward a class 4 felony violation.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/12-3.4, -3.8; 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/112A-14 (2023).)

Arrest, Bail, and Firearm Restrictions in Illinois Domestic Violence Cases

Illinois takes domestic violence crimes very seriously. Anyone arrested for domestic battery, aggravated domestic battery, or a related domestic violence offense can be denied bail and pretrial release if the court decides the defendant presents a real and grave threat of harm to the alleged victim or others. If granted release, the judge can set bail and order conditions aimed at preventing future violence. For instance, the court might order a defendant to surrender any firearms in their possession, have no contact with the victim, or refrain from going near the victim's house, job, or school. Violating any of these release provisions can land the defendant in jail pending trial and with another conviction.

If convicted of domestic battery or a felony, the defendant will be prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal and state laws. A violation carries stiff felony penalties depending on the circumstances of the violation, the type of weapon, and the defendant's criminal history.

(720 Ill. Comp. Stat. § 5/24-1.1; 725 Ill. Comp. Stat. 5/110-6.1, -10 (2023).)

Consult an Attorney

If you're charged with a domestic violence crime in Illinois, speak with an attorney. Domestic violence convictions can carry serious penalties, including prison time and substantial fines, plus the loss of civil rights.

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