A 29-year-old woman surrendered to Chicago Police Department officials a day after she shot another woman during a fight that was streamed live on social media.
The alleged victim, a 27-year-old, said she streamed the encounter because she expected an argument. The victim said she was surprised that the other woman brandished a handgun and shocked when she fired. The round landed in her shoulder, but “if I wouldn’t have turned around I would have got shot in my chest, my face, my neck or something,” she said.
A police spokesperson remarked that there is no threat to the public “as this [incident] stemmed from an earlier interaction between the two of them”.
Domestic Battery Basics in Illinois
Essentially, 720 ILCS 5/12-3.2 is a codified form of common law battery with some enhancements designed to protect certain people. Battery is a harmful or offensive touch, so a person can be charged with domestic battery even if the alleged attacked does not cause a physical injury. These protected classes are:
- Current or former spouses,
- Persons related by blood or marriage,
- Current or former dating partners,
- Persons who have a child in common,
- Current or former roommates, and
- Disabled persons and their caregivers.
Many of these relationships are very subjective, a point that is discussed below.
Normally, domestic battery is a Class A misdemeanor that carries a maximum 12 months in jail and a $2,500 fine. If the victim sustains a serious injury, the defendant had a prior domestic battery conviction, or there is another aggravating factor, prosecutors will increase charges to a Class 4 felony (one to three years in prison).
Domestic battery cases are not eligible for court supervision. So, defendants who are found guilty of this offense, or who plead guilty, always have convictions. The convictions stay on their records permanently, because domestic battery convictions cannot be expunged in Illinois.
Some Domestic Battery Defenses in Chicago
Several years ago, Illinois and most other states changed their domestic violence laws. Prosecutors can now force the victim to testify against the defendant, even if the two are husband and wife. So, the old “spousal immunity” defense has fallen by the wayside.
There are a number of other defenses available in Illinois. One approach involves attacking the relationship between the two people. As illustrated in the above story, if the persons knew each other at all, prosecutors nearly always bring domestic battery charges and then try to shoehorn the relationship into one of the protected classes.
This area is extremely gray. For example, engaged people are clearly dating partners, two people who only split an appetizer at a Kane County Chili’s are clearly not dating partners, and everyone else falls somewhere in between. Many people, including the two people in the above story, may qualify as “roommates,” but this label probably requires more than a night or two on the couch or a toothbrush in the medicine cabinet.
Self-defense may apply, as well. If defendants used an amount of force reasonably necessary to protect themselves or others, this doctrine probably applies.
These defenses, and others like them, may at least be enough to convince Chicago prosecutors to reduce the charges to simple battery, which is a court supervision-eligible offense. If the defense is strong enough, the judge may even throw out the charges altogether.
Contact Assertive Lawyers
There are many possible defenses in domestic battery prosecutions. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal law attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.
(image courtesy of Tim Graf)