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Harsher Penalties for Domestic Battery Defendants

January 22nd, 2014 at 6:00 pm

A new law that went into effect this month will allow prosecutors in Illinois to impose stiffer penalties on domestic battery offenders. According to the Rockford Register Star, the 2014 law states that those defendants who have multiple misdemeanor domestic battery convictions can be charged with a felony in light of the multiple convictions. The purpose for the harsher penalties would be to give law enforcement and prosecutors another way to protect victims of domestic violence from their attackers.

 domestic battery IMAGEAlthough some say that domestic violence is a crime that is often disregarded because it involves family members, it is one of the most common crimes reported to local law enforcement, though it is still believed to be underreported overall. The issue of domestic violence is certainly large-scale, with thousands of domestic violence incidents reported in local counties each year.

As of the first of the year, if an individual is charged with a misdemeanor domestic battery and that same individual was previously convicted of an identical charge at least once before, the grading of the charge will increase to a felony. Domestic battery is defined as harmful physical contact, harassment, threatening behavior, or interfering with the personal liberty of a household or family member. If the defendant has one or two previous convictions, their charge will be graded as a Class 4 Felony and they can face incarceration of one to three years. Three prior convictions will result in a Class 3 Felony with two to five years incarceration, and four or more prior convictions will make it a Class 2 Felony punishable by three to seven years in jail. Prior to the new law taking effect, any repeat offenders, no matter the number of prior convictions, were charged with a Class 4 Felony, the lowest graded felony charge in Illinois.

Prosecutors will retain prosecutorial discretion in making decisions, as well as in deciding on a case-by-case basis if a certain action should result in the offender being charged with a felony. Prosecutors and law enforcement will regularly work together with other local agencies in order to develop their responses to domestic violence reports, and to discuss the details of certain cases, particularly those cases that have resulted in serious injury or even death. Police officers intend to look at severe cases of domestic violence closely, and to avoid assuming a domestic violence situation will have less serious consequences than other assaults.

As the new law takes effect, there will be a number of cases that define its parameters, so that others can be aware of what sort of consequences to expect. An experienced criminal defense attorney in Chicago can be invaluable in arguing your case in light of a change in the law. Not only are we informed on legal changes, we are prepared to advise you on how they can affect the specific facts of your case. Contact us today for a consultation.

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