Illinois Domestic Violence Laws
Overview of Illinois Domestic Violence Laws
When a violent act or physical harm occurs within a family or in a dating relationship, the state may prosecute the person who committed the act on a criminal charge of domestic violence. Criminal domestic violence laws generally focus on physical harm, while civil domestic violence laws cover physical, emotional, and sexual harm. A victim of domestic violence can apply for an order of protection, also known as a restraining order, against an abuser in either the Illinois state criminal courts or the state civil court system.
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act covers violence within many types of relationships, including:
- spouses or former spouses
- individuals in a current or former dating relationship
- a parent and child or stepparent and child
- parents who have child in common
- individuals related by blood through a child
- family members related by blood
- current or former roommates in a shared dwelling
- disabled or elderly adult and a caregiver
Illinois state laws establish criminal offenses for domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery. Battery involves physical harm caused to another person or an unwanted, insulting, or provoking physical contact. To prove domestic battery, the state prosecutor must prove that a battery occurred within one of the relationships listed by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act.
The state can increase the criminal charge to aggravated domestic battery if the defendant intentionally caused great bodily harm or the crime resulted in permanent disability or disfigurement. Illinois state laws also require a charge of aggravated domestic battery if the defendant strangled the victim by choking the victim's neck or blocking the victim's ability to breathe.
Defenses to Domestic Violence Charges
- Self-defense or defense of another person
Penalties and Sentences
Illinois state laws punish domestic battery as a Class A misdemeanor, which can result in a sentence of imprisonment for up to one year. The court can also choose to release the defendant on probation. State law requires the prosecution of domestic battery as a Class 4 felony, however, if the defendant's criminal history includes at least one previous conviction for domestic battery. In addition, a domestic battery involving one of the circumstances listed in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act -- for example, battery using a firearm, battery involving a child, or battery involving sexual assault -- results in prosecution as a Class 4 felony. Under state law, a Class 4 felony may result in a sentence of imprisonment for one to three years, but a prosecutor might be able to request an additional punishment based on the defendant's criminal history or the state's sentencing extension laws.
In Illinois, an aggravated domestic battery is a Class 2 felony, which may result in three to seven years in prison or a sentence of probation. If the court grants a request for probation, the defendant must still serve at least 60 days of imprisonment. A defendant who has a previous conviction for aggravated domestic battery must receive a sentence of between three and seven years in prison. The term of imprisonment may increase to an extended term of up to 14 years if the prosecutor can meet the criteria established by state law.
Illinois Domestic Violence Statute
Note: State laws are constantly changing -- please contact an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.