Domestic battery charges can be very serious, but an even more serious charge is “aggravated domestic battery.” To understand what differentiates domestic battery from aggravated domestic battery, we will first have to look at what constitutes domestic battery under Illinois law.
What is Domestic Battery?
The crime of battery occurs when you physically touch or strike a person against their will, causing them bodily harm. This charge can also be applied to physical contact in an insulting or provocative way.
Domestic battery occurs when the crime of battery is committed against a “family or household member.” Domestic battery incidents are often punished more harshly, since the perpetrator is believed to have exploited a privileged relationship of trust with the victim.
Illinois law considers a number of different relationships that a perpetrator and victim may share to be “domestic,” and these relationships are not limited to biological family members or spouses.
Domestic battery charges may be applied if the perpetrator and victim are:
- current or former spouses
- parents, children, stepchildren, and other individuals related by blood or by marriage
- individuals who currently share a dwelling, or used to in the past
- parents who share a child
- two people who are dating or have dated in the past
- a person with disabilities and their caregiver
Usually, domestic battery is prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor. In Illinois, a Class A misdemeanor carries a possible maximum sentence of less than a year and a $2,500 fine.
However, a domestic battery charge can be upgraded to a Class 4 felony in certain circumstances. If the alleged perpetrator has a previous conviction for one of many violent crimes against a family member (like murder, aggravated battery, or kidnapping), they may face felony charges.
A Class 4 felony is punishable by up to 6 years in prison and up to $25,000 in fines.
In addition, a domestic battery with one of the conditions outlined in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act—such as battery using a firearm, battery involving a child, or battery involving sexual assault—can result in a Class 4 felony.
What is Aggravated Domestic Battery?
Aggravated domestic battery occurs when the accused causes great bodily harm, permanent disability, or disfigurement in the act of domestic battery. The aggravated designation can also apply when a defendant strangles the victim while committing a domestic battery.
This more serious designation of battery charges is prosecuted as a Class 2 felony. In Illinois, a conviction for a class 2 felony is punishable by a prison term of 3 to 7 years. Although the court may grant a request for a probation sentence, the defendant will still have to serve at least 60 days in prison.
Additionally, if the defendant has a prior conviction for an aggravated domestic battery charge, they will be required by law to serve a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison. In certain cases, the law may sentence a defendant to an extended term of imprisonment of not less than 7 years and not more than 14 years.
If you have been arrested on charges of domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery in Illinois, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Domestic violence charges carry serious penalties, including incarceration, treatment and evaluation, and substantial fines. A skilled criminal lawyer will be able to help you fight your charges while protecting your rights.
About The Author:
Howard J. Wise, the owner of the Illinois-based Law Offices of Howard J. Wise & Associates, is a criminal defense attorney who stands ready to assist clients in many different areas of the law, including criminal appeals, DUI, misdemeanors, traffic violations, and felonies. Mr. Wise began his legal career at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office as the assistant state attorney, where he was able to gain unique prosecutorial experience. He then transitioned to criminal defense and currently devotes his practice exclusively to protecting the rights of those accused of crime.