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What those who've been charged with domestic battery should know

It can prove to be a truly frightening experience when a person finds himself or herself escorted out of their home in handcuffs to the back of a waiting squad car, only to be driven to the local precinct and booked for domestic battery.

Indeed, they may wonder how they went so quickly from being engaged in a heated argument with their significant other -- and a regrettable loss of temper -- to a jail cell. They may also wonder about the potential consequences they are facing from imprisonment and fines to an order for protection and damage to their reputation.

In recognition of the fact that individuals facing domestic battery charges inevitably and understandably have a multitude of questions, today's post, the first in a series, will start taking a closer look at how Illinois defines this criminal offense.

What is domestic battery?   

State law provides that a person commits domestic battery when they 1) intentionally cause bodily harm to a family or household member, or 2) make physical contact with a family or household member in an insulting or provocative manner.

Who is considered a family or household member?

State law provides a rather expansive definition of who constitutes a family or household member. At its core, domestic battery charges are filed when a defendant stands accused of having battered any of the following individuals:

  • A former or current spouse
  • A person with whom they formerly shared or currently share a domicile
  • A parent
  • A child or stepchild
  • Any person to whom they are related by blood
  • A person with whom they have a child
  • A person with whom they are or were in a dating/engagement relationship
  • A disabled person for whom they are acting as a caregiver or personal assistant

We'll continue this discussion in future posts, exploring how domestic battery is both charged and punished, and the realities of a protective order.

In the meantime, if you've been charged with domestic battery or any other criminal offense, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights, your reputation and your freedom as soon as possible

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