A Lake County Criminal Defense Attorney Explains the Illinois Law and Defending Against Domestic Battery Charges
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN BATTERY AND DOMESTIC BATTERY IN ILLINOIS?
Battery charges in Lake County Illinois do not require any pre-existing relationship between an accuser and alleged attacker. Domestic Battery charges in Lake County Illinois require a relationship between an accuser and alleged attacker. An accuser must be considered to be a "family or household member" in common with the alleged attacker. Domestic Battery cases in Lake County most commonly arise between married couples or people in longer term relationships but under Illinois law a "family or household member" can include:
family members related by blood;
people who are married or used to be married;
people who share or used to share a home, apartment, or other common dwelling;
people who have or allegedly have child in common or a blood relationship through a child in common;
people who are dating or engaged or used to date, including same sex couples; and
people with disabilities and their personal assistants.
As you can see there are many situations that can arise and be charged under the Illinois Domestic Violence Statute including casual dating, roommates sharing expenses with no romantic involvement, students, elderly people and caretakers. Although Battery and Domestic Battery are both Class A Misdmemanors under Illinois law a Domestic Battery charge can lead to much more serious consequences than a Battery charge which can often include:
1) A non-expungeable permanent conviction on your record contrasted with expungeable supervision available on an Battery charge
2) Up to 26 weeks of costly Domestic Violence Counseling and/or Anger Management Classes
3) Permanent criminal record that can interfere with obtaining jobs or occupational and professional licenses
4) Non-citizens may face exclusion or deportation from the United States along with other possible immigration consequences
5) Lost educational opportunities including admission issues getting into to colleges or suspension or expulsion from colleges
6) Restrictions on where you can live including loss of your current residence even if you are paying the rent or mortgage
7) Custody and Visitation issues with your minor children
8) Surrender of legally owned firearms and inability to possess firearms in the future
9) Court based GPS monitoring of your movement and daily travel
10) Up to 364 days in jail
DO I NEED A LAKE COUNTY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR MY DOMESTIC BATTERY CASE IF THE CHARGES ARE GOING TO BE DROPPED BECAUSE THE WITNESS OR ACCUSER DOES NOT WANT TO GO FORWARD WITH THE CASE?
Domestic Battery cases in Lake County Illinois often begin with incidents that occur in the heat of the moment. There is always more than one side to a story and often times domestic violence situations can spin out of control quite rapidly and then the police become involved. Often police are called with the intention of cooling down a situation but that is not what happens. If the police respond to a domestic violence call someone is generally going to be arrested in my two decades of experience handling Domestic Battery cases. Police involvement and arrests in domestic situations is encouraged in our society due to repeat domestic violence scenarios and escalating harm in some cases as outlined here: Illinois State Police and Domestic Violence. Escalating physical harm and even the murder of victims of extreme domestic violence and repeat offenders have made Domestic Violence a hot button issue in society and this has created real pressure on Judges and Prosecutors to take Domestic Battery cases more seriously as a whole. Recent legal trends show that Prosecutors have become more aggressive about pursuing allegations of domestic violence in Illinois with or without the cooperation of the initial accuser. A more thorough discussion of current legal trends in Illinois related specifically to domestic violence cases can be found here: Illinois Domestic Violence Case Trends.
We all recognize that family violence against a spouse, significant other or anyone else with whom one resides is a serious issue to be addressed, however, domestic violence allegations are often among the most common to be fabricated, exaggerated or used for an improper purpose. Domestic violence cases are often based on fabricated eveidence by a accuser to gain a financial advantage or upper hand in divorce and child cutody proceedings or out of spite in failing relationship scenarios. Once the police are involved and someone is arrested for Domestic Battery or a Domestic Violence related offense the case enters the criminal justice system and the accuser no longer has the final say about the future of Domestic Battery Charges in Lake County Illinois.
ONLY A PROSECUTOR HAS THE POWER AND AUTHORITY TO DISMISS DOMESTIC BATTERY CASES IN LAKE COUNTY ILLINOIS
A Lake County Prosecutor is the only person in the court process that has the power and authority to make the decision to dismiss a domestic Battery case, not the alleged victim. There is a common misunderstanding in domestic violence cases that the victim can drop the charges. It is important to understand that a alleged victim who presses Domestic Battery charges does not get the final say to drop the charges. A Lake County Prosecutor is not the attorney for the alleged victim but rather the People of the State of Illinois. The accuser is only a witness and their input will be considered but is not the final word in the outcome of the case.
A Lake County Prosecutor's decision to drop a criminal charge can be based on evidence from witnesses, audio or video recordings, text messages, photographs, records, social media, statements the accuser made to the police when the incident happened, etc. there is the total picture created by all of the evidence. Another potential decision influencing force in a Lake County Domestic Battery case may be a victim-witness advocate employed by the Lake County State's Attorney's Office as outlined here: Lake County Victim Witness Advocates. These advocates and others coming from private social service related agencies will assist the victim in navigating the Domestic Battery court process and make them aware of possible outcomes and options regarding a case. They commonly encounter accusers who want to recant or change their stories and are not automatically dismissive or accepting of those positions.
WHAT OTHER DOMESTIC VIOLENCE RELATED CRIMINAL CHARGES CAN I FACE IN LAKE COUNTY OTHER THAN DOMESTIC BATTERY?
INTERFERING WITH THE REPORTING OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
In the midst of a domestic dispute in your car, home or public place the act of stopping a person from contacting the police or a medical care provider is a Class A misdemeanor also punishable with up to 364 days in jail. Grabbing a cell phone or home phone from someone trying to call the police or blocking doorways or exits are common examples of this behavior. The text of this law can be found here: Illinois Interfering With Reporting of Domestic Violence Law
TELEPHONE OR ELECTRONIC HARASSMENT
Domestic disagreements can lead to anxious and emotional behavior in the heat of the moment that people later regret. Numerous phone calls, texts, emails, Facebook posts or messages and other communications can rise to the level of criminal misdemeanor behavior in Lake County Illinois. You can follow these links to the actual Illinois Telephone Harassment Law and the Illinois Electronic Harassment Law. As a practical matter it is important to note these communications can be considered criminal and harassing regardless of good intentions such as reconciliation attempts or trying to resolve joint financial or child care and custody issues. Additionally, when a Domestic Battery case is initiated in Lake County Court there is generally a no contact order routinely made unless an attorney speaks up on belhalf of the accused. Just one phone call, text or message could result in bond revocation and a defendant being held in custody while fighting the original case.
Stalking is perhaps the most serious criminal behavior in the domestic violence category. A first offense Stalking charge is a Class 4 felony punishiable by 1-3 years in the Illinois Department of Corrections. The Illinois Legislature outlined and explained what behavior constitutes Stalking and why is is considered a serious offense "Stalking generally refers to a course of conduct, not a single act. Stalking behavior includes following a person, conducting surveillance of the person, appearing at the person's home, work or school, making unwanted phone calls, sending unwanted emails, unwanted messages via social media, or text messages, leaving objects for the person, vandalizing the person's property, or injuring a pet. Stalking is a serious crime. Victims experience fear for their safety, fear for the safety of others and suffer emotional distress. Many victims alter their daily routines to avoid the persons who are stalking them. Some victims are in such fear that they relocate to another city, town or state. While estimates suggest that 70% of victims know the individuals stalking them, only 30% of victims have dated or been in intimate relationships with their stalkers. All stalking victims should be able to seek a civil remedy requiring the offenders stay away from the victims and third parties". The provisions of the Stalking Law can be found in its entirety here: Illinois Stalking Law
HOW CAN A LAKE COUNTY CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY HELP ME WITH MY DOMESTIC BATTERY OR DOMESTIC VIOLENCE CASE?
It should be clear to you by now that the accuser or alleged victim in Domestic Battery cases in Lake County has a strong and experienced team behind them consisting of Law enforcement officers, Police, Victim Witness Advocates, Prosecutors and possibly even Divorce Attorneys. Stop and think for a second, who is on your team representing your interests? I have handled thousands of Domestic Battery cases first as a former Prosecutor and now as a Lake County Criminal Defense Attorney. I will provide you with my professional opinion and individual case evaluation to lay out your options and best and worst possible case scenario outcomes. Often Domestic Battery cases can be resolved favorably without you receiving a permanent conviction and the negative consequences I outlined earlier. I employ many strategies based on my experience handling Domestic Battery cases in Lake County to help your side be heard by the Prosecutors and Judge hearing your case.
If you are arrested and charged with Domestic Battery in Lake County you have an uphill battle with very high stakes as to not only your immediate freedom but future residence and relationship with your spouse or domestic partner and even your children. If you find yourself charged with Domestic Battery, Interfering With the Reporting of Domestic Violence, Telephone or Electronic Harassment or Stalking in Lake County you should realize that any and all of these category of charges are serious and can have life long lasting consequences if your interests are not handled properly. Often everyday people who have never had contact with the Lake County Criminal Justice system lose their temper in the heat of the moment or have a argument with a spouse or partner may suddenly find themself in the Lake County Court charged with Domestic Battery. Let my experience be your guide in getting through these troubling domestic situations you may find yourself in. Please contact my office located across the street from the Lake County Domestic Violence court in Waukegan at 312-882-1973.