Domestic Violence/Domestic Battery Information Center

About Domestic Violence Law in Illinois

Domestic Battery and Spousal Abuse Attorneys

The content below is intended to answer some basic questions regarding the charge of Domestic Battery. For more information and more complete explanation of your rights, please call Scott Sheen or one of the associate attorneys at (630) 443-6200 for a free telephone or office consultation or email ssheen@sheenlaw.com.

We handle domestic violence cases in Kane, DuPage, Will, Kendall, DeKalb, Winnebago, Boone and Cook Counties.

Criminal Charges

  • Domestic Battery is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of up to 364 days in the county jail and/or a fine up to $2,500. However, Domestic Battery can also be charged as a felony*. As a Class 4 felony, it is punishable from one to three years in the penitentiary or as a class. As a class two felony, it is punishable up to a year in jail. A second conviction for Domestic Battery within five years of your first requires a minimum of 48 consecutive hours in jail. A second charge for Domestic Battery can also be enhanced by the State to a Felony.
  • Aggravated Domestic Battery can be charged other situations such as when you are alleged to have caused great bodily harm, permanent disability, or you are a multiple offender of battery, or to an elderly, pregnant or disabled person.

Bail Bond Requirements

Following your arrest and release from jail on bond, there is a 72 hour “stay away order” condition that is part of your bond. The court can make you stay away until further order of court as a condition of bond as well. This requires you to amend the condition of your bond in order to have contact with the alleged victim. You must file a motion with the Court and have the Court grant such a motion for relief from Bond conditions. Generally you cannot have any contact of any kind with the “alleged victim” or return to the residence during this 72 hour period. Further, the typical bond also requires you not to have any harmful or offensive contact with the alleged victim after expiration of the 72 hour period. With the alleged victim many courts as a condition of bond require no contact until further order of court. You must file a Motion to Amend your Bond to have contact with the alleged victim.

  • Violation of the 72 hour stay away order or violating the bail bond by having harmful or offensive contact with the alleged victim is a separate crime that can be charged against you called violation of bail bond.
  • If an Order of Protection is issued against you, any alleged violation of an Order of Protection is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500.00 fine. As with Domestic Battery, it can be enhanced to a Class IV felony if you have any prior convictions for Domestic Battery or Violation of Order of Protection. Upon a conviction there is a minimum of 24 hours in jail for a subsequent violation. You can challenge the order of protection at a hearing.* You can also ask the court to modify the order to fit your personal preferences.*

Right To Trial/Pleas Of Not Guilty

  • You have the right to have either a jury trial or a bench trial.
  • A jury trial is where either 6 or 12 people decide your guilt or innocence. If found guilty, the judge, not the jury, sentences you.
  • A bench trial is where the issues, facts, and law are presented and the judge decides your guilt or innocence, and sentences you if he/she finds you guilty.
  • Nolle Prosequi: A formal entry in the record by which the prosecutor declares that he or she “will no further prosecute” the case.
  • Acquittal: A legal judgment, based on a jury or a judge, that an accused is not guilty of the crime for which he or she has been charged and tried.

State Burden of Proof

Beyond a Reasonable Doubt: The degree of proof needed for a jury or judge to convict an accused person of a crime.

  • The State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you made intentional physical contact with the alleged victim that was either a household member, a family member, or of child in a common or dating relationship by:
    1. insulting or provoking
    2. caused bodily harm;
    3. without legal justification (self-defense, consent, corporal punishment.) Beyond a reasonable doubt.

Defenses

  • Self Defense – you were defending yourself from being struck or the person put you in fear of being struck.
  • Parental Consent/Corporal Punishment- you were disciplining your child. You have a right to use reasonable discipline to children under the age of 18.
  • Consent – the alleged victim gave you permission to touch them.
  • Other – Lack of proof / lack of witnesses

Pleas Of Guilty

Blind Pleas of Guilty:

  • A blind plea of guilty is when you enter a plea of guilty before a judge without an agreement with the State. If you enter a blind plea of guilty, you will be sentenced by the court after a sentencing hearing.*
  • If you plead guilty to Domestic Battery as charged or are found guilty after either a jury or bench trial, you will receive a mandatory conviction that will remain on your record.

You will be placed on conditional discharge or probation and you may be required to:

  1. Get an anger/violence evaluation
  2. Complete anger/domestic counseling
  3. Pay fines/costs
  4. Do community service
  5. Alcohol/drug evaluation and counseling
  6. Jail time
  7. Report back to court for proof of ongoing participation in court ordered counseling

Negotiated Plea Agreements

Plea Agreement/Plea Bargain: An agreement between the State and the defendant wherein the defendant agrees to plead guilty under certain terms and conditions. Since both the State and the defendant risks losing everything, should the case goes to trial, plea agreements are means to arrive at a reasonable disposition without necessity of a trial. All plea agreements are subject to the judge’s approval or the State’s Attorney amends charges to simple battery.

  • Supervision is a type of sentence that allows you to avoid a conviction on your record. In fact, if you complete all the terms of supervision, the case is dismissed, and in some cases your record can be expunged and thereby completely cleared. Supervision is not available in Domestic Battery cases as charged.
  • It is sometimes possible to convince the State to amend the charge from Domestic Battery to simple Battery and to give you supervision for simple Battery.
  • Supervision typically lasts one to two years. You would likely have to complete an evaluation and counseling and pay fines and court costs.

Whose Case Is It Anyway?

  • The case belongs to the People of the State of Illinois, not to the alleged victim. The State’s Attorney’s office has sole discretion of whether to dismiss your case or to prosecute you.

Why Hire an Attorney?

It is in your best interest to obtain legal counsel who concentrates in criminal defense. Let the lawyer work on your behalf to:

  1. Inform you on the law and legal procedures involved in your case and possible outcomes.
  2. Investigate and obtain all reports and interview witnesses.
  3. Negotiate/argue a favorable settlement.
  4. Try your case at a jury trial or bench trial.
  5. You probably are not an experienced trial lawyer with the required knowledge and skill to defend your case;
  6. You may be too personally involved in the case to look at your case objectively and may not be able to look at all sides of your case;
  7. The lawyer will advise you his opinion on the possible outcome of your case based on experience, facts, and the law;
  8. The lawyer will be a buffer between you and the State and Judge to speak on your behalf;
  9. Your case result will probably be much better with a lawyer due to their experience in criminal cases.

* Important restrictions and conditions may apply. Please call (630) 443-6200 for more information.