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Misconceptions About Illinois Domestic Violence Law

Posted on in Domestic Violence

illinois domestic violence attorneyOn a lot of occasions, people who are charged with a crime might only be familiar with the offense because of television and pop culture. This is especially true for many domestic violence defendants, who are often unaware that what they have allegedly done even falls under the specter of domestic violence. If you have been charged, being able to separate fact from fiction about Illinois’ domestic violence law can make all the difference.

Domestic Violence Law

Contrary to what one sees on television, Illinois’ domestic violence law is far-reaching, covering much more than just spouses. The statute defines domestic violence as a crime against a household member and specifically defines household members as including spouses, but also many others. Household members include spouses, former spouses, parents, children, stepchildren, any other blood relative, and many other categories of a person both related and not related by blood to the alleged abuser.

Not Just Physical Acts

Unlike domestic violence law in many other states, Illinois domestic violence law includes intimidation, harassment, and other behaviors that can have no real physical component. The litmus test is whether or not the conduct at issue “threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty” of the person on the receiving end, and very often, verbal abuse or threats will meet that test.

Penalties

If an alleged abuser does not have any other record, they may be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, which can be up to 364 days in jail, and a $2,500 fine. However, if you have any prior convictions for physical assaults, you may be charged with a felony - usually either Class 2 or Class 4 depending on the specific offense. Neither would qualify as the proverbial ‘slap on the wrist.’ In addition to the actual charges, a domestic violence issue on your criminal record can adversely affect your employment prospects going forward, as well as parenting time, as the state of Illinois generally sees perpetrators of domestic violence as not being fit parents.

Domestic Violence Accusation

While the court of public opinion can sometimes be harsh, you will receive a fair hearing before an actual judge, and there are ways to fight a charge of domestic violence. You will be given every opportunity to contest the narrative if you believe the person accusing you is being unjust or untruthful. While the court will take protective steps to shield you from the household member accusing you (especially if there are children involved), this does not mean you will be condemned automatically.

Can I Contact the Victim?

Emphatically not - especially if the person accusing you has obtained an Order of Protection. Violating an Order of Protection can be a felony, but if nothing else it is usually charged as a Class A misdemeanor, meaning up to 364 days in jail plus a $2,500 fine. Once charges have been filed and an Order of Protection has been obtained, the chance to talk it over is past.

Consult An Attorney Immediately

If you have been charged with domestic violence, one of the best things you can do is to consult an experienced attorney as soon as possible. Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. has handled many cases of this nature, and our attorneys will be glad to sit down with you and try to help you navigate this difficult situation. Contact our dedicated DuPage County criminal defense attorneys today to set up an appointment.

 

Sources:

http://www.illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/women/victims.html

http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/ilcs/fulltext.asp?DocName=072000050K12-3.4

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