Chicago Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys
Accused of domestic violence? Contact our experienced Chicago defense attorneys at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC at (312) 644-0444 today.
Domestic violence is one of the most incredibly complex and contested areas of law. Not only are courts particularly tough right from the start on individuals accused of acting violently towards a family member, significant other, or member of the household – regardless of whether that person is ultimately found guilty or not – but the mere accusation of domestic violence still has the potential to permanently affect the life of the accused even if they are not found to be guilty. For these reasons, and many others, it is vital that you retain experienced domestic violence lawyers in the Chicago, Illinois area as soon as possible. The longer that you delay, the more that you have to lose.
Charged with Domestic Battery?
If you are reading this, then there is a good chance that you may be facing some sort of domestic violence charge. These can range from the relatively mundane to the very serious. No matter how you ended up in this situation, you are, without any doubt, quite concerned about what these accusations could mean for your personal life, your career, your standing in the community and even perhaps your child custody. After all, domestic violence allegations carry a very specific type of stigma with them, unlike many other criminal charges. These allegations do not easily fade away, and they do not quickly recede from public memory. However, you may find that enlisting the services of talented Illinois domestic violence attorneys in Chicago may be of great help.
- Judges Usually Require A Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
- What is Domestic Violence?
- What Constitutes Domestic Battery in Chicago?
- What are the Penalties for Committing Domestic Violence in Illinois?
- Why Does it Matter if I Can’t Get Supervision on Domestic Battery?
- Hiring a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney for Aggravated Battery
- What Happens to the Gun Rights of Someone Convicted of Domestic Battery?
- Find a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney if You Are Charged
Judges Usually Require A Domestic Violence Defense Lawyer
With all this in mind, it is perfectly understandable if you are eager to resolve this situation as soon as possible. Unfortunately, you will not likely be able to do this on your own. In addition to the fact that you have more than likely enough to deal with before adding the stress of a potential assault or battery conviction to the equation, you may not have the level of knowledge or experience necessary to navigate the legal process; a process which can be difficult to understand for those who do not work in the field. Most Judges consider it their responsibility to tell defendants that they must secure legal representation for any crimes that have the potential for jail. So even if this is your first domestic battery or criminal charge of any kind, chances are very high that the Judge will continue your case and order you to return with a domestic battery lawyer on your next date.
When seeking a domestic violence defense law firm in Chicago, Arlington Heights or anywhere else in Northern Illinois, be aware that Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC is staffed with attorneys who have a high level of knowledge and experience in this area, and our legal team has successfully argued many cases in which our clients faced charges related to domestic violence. Remember that you are guaranteed certain rights by the Constitution and the legal system, even and especially in criminal cases such as these, and we’re here to make sure that these rights are properly enforced.
We’ll fight tirelessly on your behalf, but it’s up to you to take the first step. If you or a loved one wishes to receive assistance with pressing legal matters such as these, contact our law firm immediately. Call our domestic violence attorneys in Chicago today at (312) 644-0444 for a free and confidential case consultation.
What is Domestic Violence?
This may seem like a simple question, but the fact is that the legal definition of domestic violence is rather complex. While some instances are obvious, such as physical harm, others are much more subtle. In Illinois in particular, including Chicago, Arlington Heights and other surrounding areas, the laws regarding domestic violence are codified in 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 60, also known as the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 and the related laws regarding Domestic Battery are codified in 720 Illinois Compiled Statutes, Section 5/12.
What Actions Constitute Domestic Violence?
This Act spells out what legally constitutes domestic violence. Several examples listed in the text of the Domestic Violence Act demonstrate what actions could be considered domestic violence and include:
- Harassment – the Domestic Violence Act basically defines this as knowing conduct which isn’t necessary to accomplish a reasonable purpose under the particular circumstances, that would cause emotional distress to a reasonable person and actually does cause the petitioner emotional distress. This may include but isn’t limited to repeatedly contacting an individual despite requests to stop and attempts to break off contact, stalking someone (whether physically or online), continued phone, text, email, or social media communications and other such examples. Emotional abuse, described by the term “emotional distress” is also contained within the umbrella of harassment.
- Intimidation – making physical or verbal threats against an individual. This can include implied threats and electronic threats (via text message, email, or social media). Also falling under this is “intimidation of a dependent,” which the Domestic Violence Act basically defines as when a person who is dependent because of health, age or disability is subjected to the witnessing of or the participation in: physical restraint or confinement of another which constitutes physical abuse as defined in this Act or physical force against another, regardless of whether that person who is abused is a family or household member. In other words, intimidation of a dependent is forcing someone who is dependent on you, against their will, to hurt or assist in hurting someone else.
- Physical Abuse – this may include but isn’t limited to hitting, slapping, throwing objects, restraining someone, choking, shoving, pushing, keeping someone confined with no means of exit, and other violent acts. However, the act also explicitly includes repeated, knowing and unnecessary deprivation of sleep and reckless or knowing conduct which creates a risk of physical harm that’s immediate as examples of physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse – sexual abuse may include but isn’t limited to sexual relationships in which one person doesn’t consent, inappropriate or lewd comments, coercive sexual behavior (such as blackmail and intimidation), and inappropriate touching.
- Interference with personal liberty – this occurs when someone commits or threatens any act of domestic violence in order to stop a member of their family or household from doing anything that is within their right to do, such as going out of the house.
Who is Considered a “Family or Household Member”?
Now that you are aware of some of the various actions that can constitute domestic violence, it is time to look at the first part of the definition of domestic violence. An act of violence is considered domestic violence if any of the previously detailed actions are committed against:
- A blood relative, including but not limited to children, siblings, and parents
- A current or former spouse
- “Persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship,” otherwise known as a current or former significant other
- Someone who lives or used to live in the same household
- A child, which includes alleged children
- A legal adult who, whether it is because of their age or any physical or mental disabilities, is dependent on another person and would thus have a more difficult time than others in finding protection from abuse
Contact the team of domestic violence lawyers in Chicago or Arlington Heights at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC today if you have been accused of harassment, intimidation, or any other type of domestic abuse. Call us now at (312) 644-0444 to learn how initiating an attorney-client relationship with our lawyers can help you with your case.
What Constitutes Domestic Battery in Chicago?
The types of domestic violence listed above include intimidation and harassment, which although violent actions, do not necessarily involve the physical touching of another person. Many people are unaware that this type of distressing, implied violence is considered a crime under Illinois law. This can also include actions as seemingly innocuous as throwing a piece of food (for instance) at a family member.
In fact, throwing food likely moves beyond implied violence into “insulting or provoking behavior.” These are important distinctions because (if the food or other object were to touch the victim) such contact would entail that a battery had occurred. Battery is the unlawful touching of one person by another (or with an object). If that touching is against a family or household member, then it could be considered domestic battery. To be more specific, 720 Statutes 5/12-3.2 states that someone commits the crime of domestic battery if a person without legal justification and knowingly or by any means: (1) causes bodily harm to any household or family member or (2) makes physical contact that’s of a provoking or insulting nature. Domestic battery is one of the most common types of domestic violence and may include such examples as throwing an object at a family member. However, more typically, domestic battery involves situations such as:
As mentioned though, you don’t have to cause actually permanent bodily harm / injury to another person to be guilty of a domestic battery. If you knowingly and intentionally touch another person in such a way that causes pain (no matter how momentary) or touch another in a way that is considered insulting or provoking to another person, then you have legally committed battery. The most important differences between domestic battery and "simple" battery are the potential sentences allowed and the collateral consequences that may follow.
What are the Penalties for Committing Domestic Violence in Illinois?
Battery, specifically of the non-aggravated kind, is a Class A misdemeanor. This means that a conviction for this charge carries a potential sentence of up to 364 days in jail, or up to 24 months of probation, conditional discharge or court supervision. Supervision is a form of deferred sentencing, and successful completion of a period of supervision is not a conviction under the laws of Illinois. These potential penalties technically apply to cases of battery whether it is a first offense, a second or a subsequent offense.
On the other hand, this is not the same sentencing scenario for a domestic battery. When an act that typically falls under the definition of battery is committed against any of the types of victims listed previously (that is to say, violence committed against a “family or household member”), then the offense is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense only. Upon any finding of guilt on the charge, a court must impose a conviction against one’s record, whether it is a jail sentence, probation or conditional discharge. This means that unlike non-domestic battery, supervision is not an option in this case.
If someone receives any subsequent convictions, it tends to give the impression to the court and the prosecutor that not only is this person posing a significant danger to their own loved ones, but also that this person may not be learning from the relatively milder penalties given to first-time offenders. Depending upon the circumstances, mandatory minimum amounts of time to be spent in jail may apply. Under the laws of Illinois, the courts may raise the offense level for this crime, which can then become a serious felony. That in turn may result in an enhanced minimum and maximum number of years that a convicted felon may be required to spend in jail and/or on probation.
Why Does it Matter if I Can’t Get Supervision on Domestic Battery?
For most people, it matters a lot. Our clients are always concerned about their criminal records, and for good reason. When you apply for schools or jobs (especially), a person’s criminal history often comes up. The same is true for people with immigration concerns. The school or potential employer will usually hire a company to do a background check or they may order a copy of the official Illinois “Rap Sheet” from the Illinois State Police. No matter what school or what job a person is applying for, criminal history is often considered to be a gauge of whether that person can be trusted to do a good job or may be a troublemaker.
This is where the important difference between supervision and a conviction comes in. Convictions are also known as Conditional Discharge or Probation in Illinois and a conviction can never be expunged under the present laws of Illinois. But a supervision is not considered to be a conviction. So, when a person has successfully completed a sentence of supervision, they may be eligible for the expungement of their record (which includes the destruction of their mug shot and fingerprint data amongst other things). Also, because a supervision isn’t a conviction, it’s truthful when a person answers “no” to the question on an application about whether they have ever been convicted of something. These are important considerations to most people as a cleaner record is usually considered to be a better record.
Many years ago, the laws in Illinois allowed supervision on domestic battery, but that has not been the case for a very long time. So, what the legal team at Sexner & Associates LLC will always try to do on criminal cases such as these is to negotiate with the State’s Attorney to try to get the charge of domestic battery changed to the charge of regular battery. Whether the prosecutor will agree to do this is entirely up to them and they’re under no obligation to do so. But it’s definitely always worth the effort to try. Their decision will often hinge upon the defendant’s criminal history (or lack thereof), the specific facts of the case, and the attitude of the victim on the case.
Hiring a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney for Aggravated Battery
As you know, domestic battery is a serious charge. Even the Illinois Domestic Violence Act states in Section 102 that part of the purpose for its creation was to recognize domestic violence as being a serious crime against both society and the individual. Even so, based on certain “aggravating” factors, Illinois courts can elevate a domestic battery charge into something even more serious: a charge of aggravated domestic battery.
Great Bodily Harm
As codified in Subsection (a) of 720 Statutes 5/12-3.3, aggravated domestic battery is when while committing a domestic battery, a person knowingly causes permanent disability, great bodily harm or disfigurement. The difference between this and the definition of the more standard battery charge, as has been upheld by Illinois courts, is in the term “great bodily harm.” To illustrate with examples, if a parent is accused of giving bruises and even small cuts to their child, they are more likely to be charged with domestic battery rather than aggravated domestic battery. But if a parent is accused of injuring their child in such a way that they received broken bones, the seriousness of the injury would more likely lead to the parent being charged with aggravated domestic battery.
Subsubsection (a-5) of 720 Statutes 5/12-3.3 further clarifies that the act of strangling a family member, spouse, significant other, or any of the other types of victims listed earlier would be subject to an upgraded charge of aggravated domestic battery. For reference, strangulation is defined within this subsubsection as intentionally interfering with the normal circulation of blood or breathing of an individual or by blocking the mouth or nose of that person. Even if the strangulation occurs for only a few seconds, it could still leave bruises on the neck, nose, or mouth areas that prosecutors could point to as evidence of aggravated domestic battery.
Under this law, aggravated domestic battery is considered a Class 2 felony, which could lead to a sentence of prison time. As with non-aggravated domestic battery, the minimum and maximum amounts of prison or jail time could be extended with any additional convictions after the first one.
The law also punishes more severely those individuals that commit a felony domestic battery, an aggravated domestic battery, unlawful restraint or aggravated unlawful restraint against a family or household member in the presence of a child, and the court may be required to impose certain mandatory minimum sentences or community service, or both. In addition to that sentence, the court may order that the offender pays for the cost of any counseling that the child receives. A child in this context is defined as anyone under the age of 18 who is the child of the offender, the child or stepchild of the victim, or a child who resides with or is visiting the household of the offender or the victim.
This is all the more reason for someone to seek out the services of a domestic violence law firm in Chicago. If you are facing charges of domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery, the lawyers at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC can provide you with assistance in your case. Contact our domestic violence lawyers in Chicago today at (312) 644-0444 for a free consultation.
What Happens to the Gun Rights of Someone Convicted of Domestic Battery?
In addition to everything else that occurs when one receives a conviction for aggravated domestic battery, Subsection (c) of 720 Statutes 5/12-3.3 states that if and when someone is convicted of this offense, the judge must inform them, whether by writing or orally, that they will be subject to federal prosecution if they are caught in the act of transporting, possessing, shipping or receiving any ammunition or firearms. This is because aggravated domestic battery is a felony, and according to Subsection (c) of 430 Statutes 65/7, no one with a felony conviction on their record, regardless of whether or not they were convicted in the state of Illinois itself, is allowed to retain a Firearm Owner’s Identification (FOID) Card – which is required by Illinois law in order for any state citizen to legally possess or purchase a firearm.
If you’re convicted of aggravated domestic battery, the Illinois State Police have the authority to take away your FOID Card or, if you don’t have one, the authority to deny any application from you on these grounds. As with any other felony, convicted felons may apply for an overturning of the prohibition to the Director of the State Police or the court of the county in which they live. However, based on 430 Statutes 65/10, there are a number of requirements for these authorities to restore the right to possess a FOID Card, and one of them is that the applicant must not have been convicted of a felony within the past twenty years. This is yet another way that a domestic battery conviction can affect your life.
Find a Domestic Violence Defense Attorney if You Are Charged
Domestic violence penalties can range from a misdemeanor with no jail to a serious felony with penitentiary time, and any finding of guilt on the charge will result in a permanent record of conviction that may never be eligible for expungement or sealing. While the information on this site may be useful for understanding one’s general situation, anyone facing charges of domestic violence and seeking legal advice should seek out a professional domestic violence law firm whose attorneys have experience with domestic situations. That is why it is critical to speak with our legal defense team as soon as possible.
The domestic violence attorneys in Chicago at Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC will use every resource at our disposal to represent your best interests in court. Because we are aware of the severe consequences of a conviction for the charge of domestic battery, a dismissal or reduction of your charges will always be our ultimate goal. We will work tirelessly as we attempt to accomplish this.
Founder and lawyer Mitch Sexner graduated from Northwestern University and the Chicago-Kent College of Law. The attorneys working at our law offices have a combined 75+ years of experience with criminal defense and have helped over 25,000 clients in many different areas of law; we stand willing and ready to assist you as well.