Countering domestic violence charges in Illinois

Serious legal, financial and personal troubles can sometimes lead to, and result from, a domestic violence arrest. Many people facing a domestic violence charge find reaching out can be key to getting beyond the challenge.

One first step can be understanding some basic issues about answering domestic violence charges.

Everyone is innocent until proven otherwise

First, proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the standard that accusers should be made to meet, regardless of the charge. As long as mistakes can be made, the standard should remain part of the legal system.

Competing myths about domestic violence can find their way into the legal proceedings. For example, false accusations are certainly not the rule, but they’re hardly unheard of in divorce or child custody cases. Law enforcement and courts are usually careful about either accepting or dismissing such claims.

Also, self-defense and defending others (such as children or other family or partners) is common in the violent situations judges and police meet almost every day. Such chaotic circumstances sometimes lead to mistaken testimony and misinterpreted evidence.

Mitigating and aggravating factors in sentencing

If a defendant is found guilty, the fines and/or jail time they may receive as a sentence can vary enormously depending on an Illinois judge’s view of the mitigating and aggravating circumstances, dozens of which are specified in Illinois law.

It can be critical to prevent or minimize the use of sentence-increasing aggravating factors like these.

  • The defendant held public employment or office and used it to commit the crime.
  • The perceived race, religion, sexual orientation or other characteristic of the victim was a reason for the criminal conduct.
  • The defendant has history of prior criminal activity.
  • A harsh sentence is needed as a deterrence to others.

Mitigating factors that might lessen a sentence can include the following.

  • The defendant is a victim of domestic violence.
  • The circumstances of the incident are unlikely to occur again or happened under extraordinary provocation.
  • The conduct did not cause or threaten any serious harm.
  • The defendant is compensating the victim the for the conduct.