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Domestic Violence

The Chicago Police take domestic violence very seriously. If you have been accused of domestic violence, John Joyce can help you clear your name and protect your rights.


Illinois has passed several legislative acts to punish domestic abusers. The primary source of domestic violence legislation is found in 750 ILCS 60, or the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986.

The Domestic Violence Act is directed to be liberally construed and applied to promote its underlying purposes, so the state has a great deal of latitude in determining when domestic violence occurs.


For the purposes of the Act, domestic violence is defined as:

  • physical abuse;
  • harassment;
  • intimidation of a dependent; or the
  • interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation.

Again, law enforcement and the state are granted great discretionary powers. They are permitted to arrest and charge alleged domestic abusers for many actions and behaviors.

Chicago police often receive reports of domestic violence for:

  • Hitting,
  • Slapping,
  • Hair pulling,
  • Biting,
  • Thrown objects or projectiles,
  • Waving weapons or objects in the direction of another; and
  • Loud, excessive yelling or screaming.

The bottom line is that domestic violence charges may stem from a variety of behaviors. Given how broadly prosecutors can define domestic violence, your best option is to immediately speak to a criminal attorney to discuss your case.


The Act is applicable to violent or harmful behavior against family or household members. These include:

  • Spouses or former spouses;
  • Parents, children, and stepchildren;
  • Others related by blood or marriage – such as uncles, aunts, or grandparents;
  • Individuals who have or allegedly have a child in common;
  • Co-habitants or former co-habitants;
  • Dating or engaged couples; and
  • Individuals with disabilities and their personal assistants.


The Domestic Violence Act of Illinois is not the only law under which the state may bring charges against an alleged abuser. Domestic violence can take many forms, and the act(s) may violate other state laws. The most common charge is domestic battery [720 ILCS 12-3.2].

A person commits a domestic battery if he or she knowingly causes bodily harm or engages in unwanted physical contact with a family or household member. Note, a conviction for domestic battery requires physical contact, while a conviction for domestic violence does not. But please note that Chicago police are trained to respond aggressively to all domestic violence allegations, regardless of whether there was contact or not.


Many actions or behaviors can trigger domestic violence violations and charges. As a result, the applicable criminal punishments vary, depending on severity. The facts and circumstances specific to your case, as well as your existing criminal record, will determine how the state classifies the charges against you.

Unless aggravating factors apply, domestic violence is typically a Class A Misdemeanor. If you are convicted of Class A Misdemeanor domestic violence, you may face a sentence of up to 1 year in jail, and/or fines of up to $2,500.

If, however, aggravating factors are present, domestic battery may be charged as a Class 4 Felony. Aggravating factors include a battery:

  • Using a firearm;
  • Involving a child; or
  • Involving sexual assault.

Additionally, domestic battery will be charged as a Class 4 Felony if the accused has at least one prior conviction for domestic battery. If you are convicted of Class 4 Felony domestic violence, you may face a sentence of 1-3 years in prison, and/or fines of up to $25,000. In some cases, an aggravated domestic battery may be charged as a Class 2 Felony, which carries a sentence of 3-7 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $25,000.

Additional criminal punishments for a conviction of domestic violence in Chicago include:

  • probation,
  • anger management classes, and
  • court-mandated counseling.

If other criminal charges are pursued – such as stalking or harassment – punishments for conviction of those crimes may be applied in addition to those for domestic violence.

Courts may issue an Order of Protection for household members who have been abused or who are likely to be abused. Violating an Order of Protection is a Class A Misdemeanor.


There are times when law enforcement may misinterpret a domestic situation or receive false accusations. If you have been charged with an act of domestic violence that you did not commit, you may be able to fight the charges in court. Common defenses to domestic violence include:

  • Defending yourself or another person from personal injury or harm;
  • Mutual fighting;

If you are defending yourself or another person from injury or harm you are permitted to use reasonable force. In asserting a claim of self-defense you are essentially admitting to the charges against you, but offering a legal justification for your actions.

If Charged with a Crime, You Need a Trial Lawyer

John Joyce is an agressive trial lawyer with the training and experience you need to win your case. Call us now at 773-789-7899 to receive a free consultation.


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