We often fight most with the people closest to us. Whether it is the high emotions involved in a romantic relationship, or conflicts with people we live with, the law treats these types of cases more harshly than “normal” conflicts with a stranger or acquaintance.
That's where domestic battery laws come in. As a Chicago domestic battery lawyer, these cases always stand out to me for their potential to do massive harm to the client. Police, prosecutors and lawmakers all pay special attention to domestic battery cases, resulting in a minefield for my clients. These cases even have their own courthouse at 555 W. Harrison staffed with special prosecutors devoted to processing the mass amounts of domestic violence cases in Chicago.
What Are the Stakes?
As a crime, misdemeanor domestic battery is punishable by jail time. But, especially if there were no serious injuries, you are in Cook County and you have never been arrested before, jail is not likely. 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2
Rather, the major risk is in harm to the client's record causing massive damage to their career prospects and earning potential. The new American economy is extremely competitive and research confirms what we all suspect: applicants with records are often passed over.
Note that if you are charged with aggravated domestic battery (720 ILCS 5/12-3.3), you do face a serious risk of jail time in addition to the threat to your record.
Do You Have Any Settlement Options?
Although the first tactic is always to attempt settlement through negotiations, prosecutors are simply less likely to make an offer that does not involve a guilty plea in domestic battery cases. The “no guilty plea” is absolutely crucial to keeping your record free and clear.
This is not to say that negotiated settlements are impossible in domestic battery cases. The alert Chicago domestic battery lawyer should always seek to negotiate a deal in your case first, in hopes of saving you risk, time and expense.
For more on this aspect of your case, read my guide on Your Settlement Options.
How to Beat Your Domestic Battery Case
As a result, domestic battery charges in Chicago often have to be fought. The good news is that there are many ways to beat these cases. A disciplined and experienced Chicago domestic battery lawyer should understand the unique mix of factual and legal defenses available in these cases; here are just a few:
Self-Defense. By far the most common, and often most effective, defense to domestic battery charges is self-defense. You are legally justified in using physical force to defend yourself against another's aggression and cannot be found guilty of domestic battery.
But half the battle in using the self-defense argument is out of court. Does the person accusing you have any crimes of violence in their background? Are there other people that can testify regarding their violent nature? Securing evidence of this is a powerful tool in helping you successfully argue self-defense.
No dating relationship. Remember, domestic battery in the relationship context requires a dating relationship. Was the person accusing you actually your boyfriend or girlfriend? Or were you just having fun and hooking up? If you were just having sex and the relationship was purely physical, it's not a domestic battery. Illinois v. Howard, 2012 Ill.App.3d 100925.
The battery never happened. People often make domestic battery accusations out of hate, or to gain an advantage in a divorce or custody proceeding. Whatever the reason, they want to hurt you and they know putting you through a domestic battery case is a good way to do it.
Again, in these cases, out of court investigation and preparation is key to revealing the false accusation for what it is. Is there any video to subpoena or otherwise secure? Any crimes of dishonesty in your accuser's background? What weaknesses are there in the police report to show you've been falsely accused?
For more on these strategies, read my guide on How to Beat Your Case.
Let's Have a Conversation
If you get a sick feeling every time you think about your arrest and next court date, it means you have come alone far enough. There is almost always a path to victory, you just need to assume it is there and know how to find it.
The information in this guide is a good first start, but Chicago domestic battery charges are by definition fluid situations. You have nothing to lose by taking advantage of my free and confidential 15-minute consultation.