Common Domestic Violence Defenses

Domestic ViolenceThere are many types of domestic violence that can be litigated in court, including physical, verbal or sexual abuse, intimidation, harassment, and interference with personal liberty. If you are accused of acting aggressively or physically harming another person, the state will attempt to prove the assault, battery or other domestic offense happened to a victim someone covered under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. This Act relates to a number of relationships including:

  • Spouses or former spouses
  • Individuals in dating relationships
  • Parents, children, stepparents, and stepchildren
  • Current or former roommates
  • Disabled or elderly adults and caregivers
  • Blood relatives

Chicago Domestic Violence Charges

A domestic violence charge can be classified as either a misdemeanor or a felony depending upon the circumstances and severity of the crime. The crime can be classified as a Class A domestic battery if you make physical contact with a family or household member that insults, provokes, or causes bodily harm to that person.

However, if a defendant has a history of domestic violence convictions, or if the crime involves battery to a child, sexual assault or use of a firearm, you may be charged with a Class 4 felony, which carries a one to three-year prison sentence. In more severe cases, an aggravated domestic battery charge may be considered a Class 2 felony, which carries a three to seven-year prison sentence. You may also be charged with a felony if you have been previously  convicted of any of the following:

  • Attempt to commit first-degree murder
  • Aggravated battery
  • Aggravated domestic battery
  • Aggravated battery of an unborn child or senior citizen
  • Aggravated stalking
  • Kidnapping
  • Aggravated arson

Domestic ViolenceCommon Domestic Violence Defenses

If someone is attacking you, one of the natural reactions is to fight back. This can serve as one of two common defenses in domestic violence cases: self-defense or defense of another person, which may include mutual combat. However, what constitutes self-defense can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction and more importantly, from judge to judge. Courts will examine whether they believe that the victim had reason to think such defense was necessary and if a threat was imminent, and also consider whether the intended victim actually provoked the attack.

Because of these concerns, many states developed guidelines to determine when self-defense is appropriate. For example, Illinois is one of many states that does not have a “stand your ground” law, which means that in some states, you do not have to retreat from a threatening situation before resorting to a deadly force. In Illinois, other possible options and considerations for a defense exist which may include:

  • Imperfect Self-Defense: This common-law defense is used if a person genuinely feared death or imminent harm, although that fear turned out to be objectively unreasonable. The defense doesn’t excuse a person’s actions, but it might lessen charges or penalties.
  • Justifiable Use of Force: A person is justified to use force if he reasonably believes the conduct is necessary to defend himself or his property against an imminent or deadly threat. However, you cannot claim self-defense if you are the aggressor.
  • Proportional response: Whether the self-defense matched the level of threat in question.
  • Duty to Retreat: If the person claiming self-defense tried to avoid violence before using force.
  • Mutual Combat: A fight or struggle entered by both individuals willingly that results in death or injury. Evidence must show that both parties equally participated in the fight. However, mutual combat doesn’t apply if the defendant’s retaliation was more severe than the provocation.

Contacting the Right Attorney

The Chicago domestic violence attorneys with Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC recognize the severity of the consequences associated with a domestic violence conviction. We will vigorously fight for a dismissal or reduction of your charges. The longer you wait to address domestic violence charges, the more difficult it may be to defend your case. Our office personnel is standing by 24/7 to take your call at (312) 644-0444. You can also fill out this online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable and experienced Chicago attorneys today.

Written by Mitchell S. Sexner Last Updated : October 23, 2023