Thousands of people throughout the United States experience domestic violence every year. The term “domestic violence” is quite broad and can apply in many different situations. Domestic violence cases can involve physical or sexual abuse, harassment, stalking, and ongoing emotional and psychological abuse. When these incidents occur, the victims must know their legal rights and the options available to them that can potentially help them prevent further abuse. If you or a loved one recently experienced domestic violence in the Metro East, IL, area, you must prepare for a complex series of legal proceedings.

Domestic violence can generate various types of legal cases. The party engaged in the violence in question will face criminal prosecution in the state criminal court system, but they will also face family court proceedings. Domestic violence can easily lead to a divorce, influence an ongoing divorce case, and generate complex child custody disputes.

Understanding Domestic Violence Laws in Illinois

Illinois recognizes domestic violence as applicable to many types of criminal offenses that carry additional weight since they involve victims who are family members or members of the same household as the perpetrator. For example, assault is a common criminal offense in Illinois that carries various potential penalties depending on the details of the case. Domestic violence that entails a physical assault will likely lead to more substantial penalties than a simple assault charge. Under Illinois law, domestic violence can occur between:

  • Married or divorced spouses.
  • Current or former romantic partners.
  • Roommates and housemates, including former ones.
  • Parents and children.
  • Extended family members.
  • Divorced or unmarried co-parents.

The penalties for domestic violence charges fluctuate based on several factors. For example, domestic battery in Illinois is typically prosecuted as a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in county jail and a $2,500 fine. On the other hand, a domestic aggravated battery that causes significant bodily injury or permanent harm is a Class 2 felony, punishable by a minimum of 60 days in jail with a conditional probation sentence or up to three years in prison with prior offenses.

Beyond the penalties assigned in criminal court, an individual convicted of domestic violence will also face harsh consequences in family court. For example, if a spouse commits domestic violence against their spouse, this can easily lead to a divorce case in which the court will inherently side with the victim. In addition, an individual convicted of domestic violence offenses may also lose their child custody rights or visitation rights, and they will also likely be subject to a protective order.

What Is a Protective Order?

When a victim of domestic violence reports their experience to the police, the police will remove the accused perpetrator from the situation. The police can also assist the victim in securing a temporary protective order that lasts until the initial court hearing regarding the situation. A protective order will prevent the accused abuser from contacting the alleged victim or coming near their home, workplace, and children’s childcare centers or schools. At the initial hearing, the judge will determine whether to rescind the temporary order or change it to a permanent protective order.

The penalties for violating a protective order can be severe, including fines and jail time. Illinois also considers interference with the reporting of domestic violence to be a Class A misdemeanor. Therefore, it’s vital for anyone accused of domestic violence to comply with lawful police instructions and protective orders, even if they have been wrongfully accused. Unfortunately, some individuals levy false accusations of domestic violence when involved in divorces or custody disputes, usually to leverage the court against the accused.

Potential Outcomes of Domestic Violence Cases

When individuals are convicted of domestic violence in criminal court, their conviction will influence related family court cases. For example, if a spouse commits domestic violence against their spouse, this could lead to the victim filing for divorce. If the abuser is convicted, the court would be unlikely to grant them any custody or visitation rights. If the abuser harmed a child, they would likely face much harsher penalties and would be prohibited from contacting or coming near the child in the future. When domestic violence involves crimes of a sexual nature, the perpetrator would likely face long-term or permanent sex offender registration. This would prevent them from living in certain areas or obtaining various types of employment.

It’s important to remember that if a parent loses their custody rights because they committed domestic violence, the loss of their parental rights does not cancel their child support obligation. If they had not committed the offense in question, they might have obtained some level of custody which would have reduced their support obligation. It is very difficult for any parent convicted of domestic violence to regain custody or visitation rights after these incidents.

How Can an Attorney Help Me?

If you have been the victim of domestic violence in the Metro East, IL, area, you need legal counsel you can trust to help you navigate your case. Legal representation can allow victims to approach complex family court proceedings with confidence and peace of mind. Whether your domestic violence experience relates to a divorce, custody determination, or complex legal issues in the Metro East family court system, your attorney can guide you through these proceedings as efficiently as possible, securing the protection you and your family need.

Those accused of domestic violence also need legal counsel for both their criminal and family law cases. Your attorney can help you determine the best defenses available to you. For example, if you are wrongfully accused, your attorney may help you secure physical evidence and witness statements that prove the truth of the matter. In addition, if you are required to comply with a protective order, your attorney can provide valuable advice that could help you avoid penalties for violation of the order.

No matter what your domestic violence case entails, legal counsel you can trust is an essential asset. Contact an experienced Metro East, IL, domestic violence attorney as soon as possible to determine your best legal options.