Two types of domestic battery and penalties

by Sami Azhari on September 13, 2011

Domestic Battery Bodily Harm

The law in Illinois provides that there are two types of domestic battery offenses. First, a person can be charged with domestic battery for causing bodily harm to any family or household member. Second, a person can also be charged with domestic battery for making contact of an insulting and provoking nature with any family or household member. These charges are found under sections 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2(a)(1) and (a)(2).

Technically, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person did either one of those two things and also that such action was committed intentionally or knowingly without legal justification.

These are the elements of the crime of domestic battery as set forth in the Illinois Criminal Code at section 720 ILCS 5/12–3.2.

This offense is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Under certain circumstances, such as a prior domestic battery or violation of an order of protection, the offense can become a felony. The penalty for domestic battery can be up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of $2500. However, domestic battery is different from other Class A misdemeanor offenses.

Other comparable offenses which are categorized as Class A misdemeanors under Illinois law include driving under the influence, retail theft, battery, or possession of cannabis. Whereas each of the foregoing offenses allows the defendant to have supervision, domestic battery does not. In fact, domestic battery has a mandatory minimum sentence. The defendant cannot receive supervision. Instead, the court must sentence the defendant to a conviction, which is a permanent criminal record that can never be expunged or sealed. In this respect domestic battery is more serious than other misdemeanor offenses.

The prosecuting attorney will charge the defendant with causing bodily harm where there is any harm whatsoever. The fact that the injuries are minor has no importance. If the alleged victim has any marks of redness, scratches, bruises, or cuts, the defendant will receive the charge of bodily harm. Where physical contact occurs but no injury occurs as a result, the defendant will be charged with the second type of domestic battery, insulting or provoking contact.

People should be aware that there are additional mandatory minimum penalties for each of the two types of domestic battery. For example, a person who was found guilty of causing bodily harm will not be entitled to receive a reduction in his jail sentence as a result of good behavior.

The County Jail Good Behavior Allowance Act is a law that provides people who serve jail sentences in Illinois jails shall serve only 50% of the time. See 730 ILCS 130/3. A person who is found guilty of an offense resulting in bodily harm receives no good time credit. That means a jail sentence will be served at 100%, which is also called straight time.

Domestic battery that involves insulting or provoking contact does not have this mandatory minimum penalty.

In the course of my career, I have seen this mandatory minimum penalty for bodily harm result in a very severe sentence. It was not my client but I followed the progress of the case. It occurred in Lake County.

The defendant in this case was on probation for domestic battery involving bodily harm. He violated his probation, and as a result the court resentenced him. The judge was probably not aware of the fact that the defendant would not receive good time credit, and the judge sentenced him to the maximum 364 days in jail. Because that would amount to straight time, that defendant served 364 days. That is the longest possible sentence for any misdemeanor and I have seen it happen only once. That case stands as a reminder that domestic battery is a very serious matter and you need a competent attorney to help you.

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