Domestic Violence Defense Attorneys in Chicago
Accused of domestic violence? Contact our experience 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 Chicago, Illinois as soon as possible. The longer that you delay, the more that you have to lose.
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 horrific. 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, and even your standing in the community and 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 IL domestic violence attorneys in Chicago may be of great help.
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 have 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.
If you seek a domestic violence law firm in Chicago, Mitchell S. Sexner & Associates LLC is staffed with attorneys who do have that level of knowledge and experience, and we have successfully argued many cases in which our clients faced charges related to domestic violence. You must remember that as an American citizen you are guaranteed certain rights by the Constitution and the legal system, even and especially in this trying time, and we are here to make sure that these rights are properly enforced.
We will fight tirelessly on your behalf, but it’s up to you to take the first step. If you or a loved one wish to receive assistance with pressing legal matters, contact our law firm immediately. Call our domestic violence attorneys in Chicago today at (800) 996-4824 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 subtler. In Illinois in particular, including the Chicago, Arlington Heights and other surrounding areas, the laws regarding domestic violence are codified in 750 Illinois Compiled Statutes 60, also known as the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.
This Act spells out what legally constitutes domestic violence. Several examples listed in the text of the Domestic Violence Act of actions demonstrate what could be considered domestic violence and include:
- Harassment – the Domestic Violence Act defines this as “knowing conduct which is not necessary to accomplish a purpose that is reasonable under the circumstances; would cause a reasonable person emotional distress; and does cause emotional distress to the petitioner.” This may include but is not 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 more. Emotional abuse, described with 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 defines as “subjecting a person who is dependent because of age, health or disability to participation in or the witnessing of: physical force against another or physical confinement or restraint of another which constitutes physical abuse as defined in this Act, regardless of whether the abused person 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 is not 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 “knowing, repeated and unnecessary sleep deprivation” and “knowing or reckless conduct which creates an immediate risk of physical harm” as examples of physical abuse.
- Sexual Abuse – sexual abuse may include but is not limited to sexual relationships in which one person does not 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.
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 term. An act of violence is considered domestic violence if any of the above 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 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 (800) 996-4824 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 are violent actions that do not necessarily involve physically touching another person. Many people are unaware that this type of distressing, implied violence is considered a crime under Illinois law. This can include actions as innocuous as throwing a piece of food at a family member.
In fact, throwing food 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 he or she knowingly and without legal justification by any means: (1) causes bodily harm to any family or household member;” or “(2) makes physical contact of an insulting or provoking nature.” Domestic battery is one of the most common types of domestic violence, such as the example of throwing food at a family member given above.
As mentioned, you do not have to cause bodily harm to another person to be guilty of a battery. If you knowingly and intentionally touch another person in such a way that implies violence, then in the eyes of the law, you have legally committed battery. The most important differences between domestic battery and "simple" battery are the potential penalties involved 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 penalties apply to cases of battery whether it is a first offense, or a second or subsequent offense.
On the other hand, this is not the case for domestic battery. When an act that typically falls under the definition of battery is committed against any of the types of victims listed above, then the offense is a Class A misdemeanor for the first offense only. Upon any finding of guilt on the charge, a court may 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 would give the impression to the court that not only is this person posing a significant danger to their own loved ones, but also that this person is not 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 results in the courts raising the minimum and maximum number of years that a convicted felon may be required to spend in jail and/or on probation.
Aggravated Domestic Battery in Chicago
As you can see, 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 a serious crime against the individual and society.” However, based on certain factors, Illinois courts can elevate a domestic battery charge into something even more serious: a charge of aggravated domestic battery.
As codified in Subsection (a) of 720 Statutes 5/12-3.3, aggravated domestic battery is when “a person who, in committing a domestic battery, knowingly causes great bodily harm, or permanent disability 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 a few bruises and even small cuts to their child, they are more likely to be charged with domestic battery rather than aggravated domestic battery. 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 considered aggravated domestic battery. For reference, strangling is defined within this subsubsection as “intentionally impeding the normal breathing or circulation of the blood of an individual or by blocking the nose or mouth of that individual.” 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 mandatory minimum sentence of prison time. As with non-aggravated domestic battery, the minimum and maximum amounts of prison time would likely be extended with any 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 a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 days in jail, 300 hours of 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 (800) 996-4824 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 when someone is convicted of this offense, the judge must inform them, whether in writing or by speaking, that they will be subject to federal prosecution if they are caught in the act of “possessing, transporting, shipping, or receiving any firearm or ammunition.” 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 are convicted of aggravated domestic battery, the Department of State Police has the authority to take away your FOID Card or, if you do not 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 an 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.
What to Do If You Are Charged with Domestic Violence in Illinois
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 in Chicago whose attorneys have experience with domestic situations. That is why it is critical to speak with our 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 15,000 clients in many different areas of law; we stand willing and ready to assist you as well.