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Illinois Domestic Violence Laws

When a violent act or physical harm occurs within a family or in a dating relationship, the state may prosecute the person who committed the act on a criminal charge of domestic violence. Criminal domestic violence laws generally focus on physical harm, while civil domestic violence laws cover physical, emotional, and sexual harm. A victim of domestic violence can apply for an order of protection, also known as a restraining order, against an abuser in either the Illinois state criminal courts or the state civil court system.

Illinois Domestic Violence Act

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act covers violence within many types of relationships, including:

  • spouses or former spouses
  • individuals in a current or former dating relationship
  • a parent and child or stepparent and child
  • parents who have child in common
  • individuals related by blood through a child
  • family members related by blood
  • current or former roommates in a shared dwelling
  • disabled or elderly adult and a caregiver

Domestic Battery and Aggravated Domestic Battery

Illinois domestic violence laws establish criminal offenses for domestic battery and aggravated domestic battery. Battery involves physical harm caused to another person or an unwanted, insulting, or provoking physical contact. To prove domestic battery, the state prosecutor must prove that a battery occurred within one of the relationships listed by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act. The state can increase the criminal charge to aggravated domestic battery if the defendant intentionally caused great bodily harm or the crime resulted in permanent disability or disfigurement.

Illinois Domestic Violence Laws Basics

Specific details about domestic violence laws in Illinois, including charges and penalties, are listed in the following table. Remember, if you or someone you love is in a potentially dangerous and/or abusive situation, consider seeking help right away.


Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, 720 Ill. Comp. Stat. Ann. § 5/12-3.2- et. seq.

Sentences and Penalties

Domestic battery: Class A misdemeanor, up to one year jail, probation, fine, possible counseling as directed,

Class 4 felony if the defendant's criminal history includes at least one previous conviction for domestic battery or if the action involves one of the circumstances listed in the Illinois Domestic Violence Act such as

  • battery using a firearm,
  • battery involving a child, or
  • battery involving sexual assault

Class 4 felonies may result in a sentence of imprisonment for one to three years, but a prosecutor might be able to request an additional punishment based on the defendant's criminal history or the state's sentencing extension laws.

Aggravated domestic battery: Class 2 felony, three to seven years in prison or a sentence of probation. If the court grants a request for probation, the defendant must still serve at least 60 days of imprisonment. A defendant who has a previous conviction for aggravated domestic battery must receive a sentence of between three and seven years in prison. The term of imprisonment may increase to an extended term of up to 14 years if the prosecutor can meet the criteria established by state law.

Possible Defenses (List Not Exhaustive)

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Research the Law

Illinois Domestic Violence Laws: Related Resources

Facing Domestic Violence Charges? Get Legal Help Today

The consequences of a domestic violence conviction can be devastating, particularly if there are children involved. While these types of cases are often highly emotional, it is best to keep calm and speak with a lawyer if you’ve been charged. An experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney can help you mount a defense.

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