Domestic violence is a problem that continues to plague tens of thousands of families across the country. Despite countless awareness programs, educational campaigns, and victim empowerment efforts, as many as one in three women and one in four men will experience domestic violence at the hands of an intimate partner at least once in their lifetime.
In terms of the law, domestic abuse is an area that blurs the line between family law and criminal law. It is understandable that such behavior would be a factor in cases related to child custody and parental rights, but the same actions that cost a parent time with his or her children could also result in criminal penalties as well. Domestic violence is most often charged as domestic battery in Illinois, and it is important to understand the potential consequences.
Two Types of Actions
Just as the crime of battery may be committed in two ways, domestic battery can too. A person commits domestic battery when he or she causes bodily harm to a family or household member. Domestic battery may also be charged in the absence of bodily harm if a person makes physical contact of a provoking or insulting nature with a family or household member. Thus, a slap across the face could be considered domestic battery, even if the slap did not cause a cut or bruise.
For the purposes of the law, family members and household members include current or former romantic partners, parents, children, stepchildren, stepparents, relatives by blood or marriage, current or former roommates, and disabled individuals and their caregivers. An individual with whom one shares a child in common is also included.
Domestic battery is, at the very least, a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in prison and $2,500 in fines. Unlike other misdemeanors, domestic battery is also not eligible for court supervision or other diversionary programs that can prevent a permanent conviction from being part of the offender’s permanent record. A domestic battery conviction can also not be sealed. A second offense is automatically a Class 4 felony, which carries up to three years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of three days’ imprisonment.
Protecting Your Rights
While there are a few ways to mount a defense against charges of domestic battery, the most common is that the defendant was acting to protect him- or herself. The right defense for your case, however, will depend entirely on your unique circumstances. If you have been arrested for domestic battery, an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney can help protect your future. Call Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba at 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.