Will My Domestic Battery Charge be a Felony or a Misdemeanor?

Domestic-BatteryA common question I get from clients who come into my office to talk about their Domestic Battery case is whether their Domestic Battery is a misdemeanor or a felony. The overwhelming majority of Domestic Battery cases are misdemeanors. But under certain circumstances, a misdemeanor Domestic Battery can be a felony. If you are charged with a Domestic Battery and the charge is a felony, you will be charged with an Aggravated Domestic Battery. Let me explain what a misdemeanor Domestic Battery is and what a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery is and what’s the difference between the two possible charges.

What is a Misdemeanor Domestic Battery?

If you make physical contact with a family member, you may be charged with a Domestic Battery. There’s two ways that you can be charged with a misdemeanor Domestic Battery in Illinois. The first is if the physical contact results in physical harm to the family member. An example would be punching a family member, or pushing a family member to the ground, causing pain or bruising. Another way that you can be charged with a Domestic Battery is if you make physical contact with a family member that is of an insulting or a provoking nature. An example would be spitting in the face of a family member. While no physical injury or pain results from the contact, this could be considered insulting, making it a misdemeanor Domestic Battery.

From a legal standpoint, whether you are charged with a Domestic Battery that results in physical harm to a family member, or whether the Domestic Battery was of an insulting or provoking nature, the legal charges and the consequences are essentially the same. From a practical standpoint, defendant’s charged with Domestic Battery that causes physical harm are usually dealt with more harshly by judges and prosecutors than defendants charged with a Domestic Battery that causes physical contact of a insulting or provoking manner. While the legal consequences are essentially the same, the practical realities of how you will be treated in court suggest that you are more likely to be treated in a more lenient manner if the contact did not cause any physical harm to the victim.

What is a Felony Aggravated Domestic Battery?

Unlike a misdemeanor Domestic Battery, in order to be charged with a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery there must have been physical harm to the victim. You cannot be charged with a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery if the physical contact was of an insulting or provoking nature. There’s two ways that you can be charged with a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery. The first is when there’s great bodily harm or permanent disability or disfigurement to the victim. An example would be if the Battery resulted in a permanent injury or a permanent scar to the victim. The second way that you can be charged with a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery is if the physical contact caused the victim to be unable to breathe, even for a split second. This type of felony Aggravated Domestic Battery is commonly known as “strangulation”. As long as the victim tells the police that their oxygen supply was cut off for any period of time, you can be charged with a felony Aggravated Domestic Battery.

What is the Sentence for a Domestic Battery and an Aggravated Domestic Battery?

A Domestic Battery is a class A misdemeanor in Illinois. A Domestic Battery carries a maximum punishment of up to one-year in jail and a maximum fine of $2,500. Since a Domestic Battery is a misdemeanor in Illinois, any jail sentence must be served in the County Jail. If the Domestic Battery resulted in physical harm to the victim, any jail sentence imposed must be served in full. In other words, if you are sentenced to 60-days in jail, you must serve all 60 days. You will not receive any “good time” if the Domestic Battery resulted in physical harm to the victim. If you are sentenced to jail for a Domestic Battery that was as a result of harmful or offensive contact, you are eligible to receive “good time” for any time sentenced to jail. This is why it’s important for your lawyer to know whether you are being charged with a Domestic Battery that is of an insulting or provoking nature or whether the Domestic Battery is based on physical harm to the victim.

The lowest possible sentence that you can receive for a Domestic Battery is Conditional Discharge. You cannot receive Court Supervision for a Domestic Battery in Illinois. This means that you can never expunge or seal the Domestic Battery from your record. A Domestic Battery will always appear on a background search if you are ever found guilty of a Domestic Battery.

And Aggravated Domestic Battery is a Class 2 felony in Illinois. A Class 2 felony carries a potential prison sentence of 2 to 5 years. Since an Aggravated Domestic Battery is a Class 2 felony, if you are sentenced to jail, you must serve your time in a State Prison. You may receive probation for a class 2 Aggravated Domestic Battery felony, but in addition to any other sentence, you must serve a 60-day continuous period of time in jail if you are guilty of an Aggravated Domestic Battery, the 60-day continuous jail sentence is mandatory under Illinois Law and cannot be changed by anyone. In addition, since Aggravated Domestic Battery is a Class 2 felony, you will never be able to seal or expunge the Aggravated Domestic Battery from your criminal record. An Aggravated Domestic Battery will always appear on a background search.

James Dimeas is a nationally-recognized, award-winning, Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery Lawyer. James Dimeas has over 26 years of experience handling Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery cases in Chicago, Cook County, DuPage County, Kane County, and Lake County. Attorney and Practice Magazine gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorney Award for Illinois.” The National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys gave James Dimeas the “Top 10 Attorney Award for the State of Illinois.” James Dimeas was named a “Best DUI Attorney.” Expertise named James Dimeas a “Best Criminal Defense Lawyer in Chicago.” The National Trial Lawyers named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Trial Lawyer.” The American Society of Legal Advocates named James Dimeas a “Top 100 Criminal Defense Lawyer in the State of Illinois For the Years 2018 and 2019.” The American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys named James Dimeas a “10 Best Attorney for Client Satisfaction.” James Dimeas is rated “Superb” by AVVO, the highest rating possible for any Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery attorney in the United States.

If you are charged with a Domestic Battery or an Aggravated Domestic Battery, you can always contact James Dimeas for a free and confidential consultation. You can always talk to James Dimeas personally by calling him at 847-807-7405.

Additional Resources:

720 ILCS 5/12-3.2-Domestic Battery.

720 ILCS 5/12-3.3-Aggravated Domestic Battery.

Additional Blogs:

What’s the Difference Between a Civil Order of Protection and a Criminal Order of Protection?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, May 30, 2017.

Will I Be Charged with a Domestic Battery if I Slap My Child?, by James G. Dimeas, Chicago Criminal Lawyer Blog, April 25, 2017.