Chicago Domestic Violence Attorney
Getting charged with domestic violence can turn your life upside down. Your reputation, finances, and freedom will all hang in the balance as you pass through the criminal justice system. With so much at stake, you owe it to yourself to work with a skilled Chicago domestic violence attorney. Through aggressive advocacy and a thorough approach to your case’s defense, you may be able to avoid all or some of the penalties of a domestic violence conviction.
As with any crime, you will face the prospect of fines and jail time if you get convicted. But what sets domestic violence apart from most other crimes is the vigor with which the prosecutor will pursue the case against you. Prosecutors are often socially and/or politically motivated to appear tough on crimes involving domestic violence. This means that many people get prosecuted on the basis of false or exaggerated claims – often motivated by a spouse or partner seeking to influence the outcome of a child custody or divorce proceeding.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, contact a skilled Chicago assault and battery lawyer with ample experience handling similar cases. We will evaluate your case and help you decide what steps to take next.
Call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 to find out how we can help you.
How Does Illinois Law Define Domestic Violence?
According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act at 750 ILCS 60, domestic violence consists of hitting, choking, kicking, threatening, harassing, or interfering with the personal liberty of a household member. Illinois law defines household members as:
- Family members related by blood
- People who are married or who used to be married
- Individuals who share or used to share a home
- People who have or allegedly have a child in common
- People who are dating or who used to date
- Disabled persons and their personal assistants
Most people think of domestic violence as physical violence against a partner, but the definition is much broader and it applies to a wider range of individuals. Domestic violence cases can be broken down into the following categories:
- Elder abuse – You could face domestic violence charges if someone accuses you of harming an elderly family member who lives with you.
- Spousal abuse – Threatening or striking your spouse is what most people think of when they think of domestic violence.
- Intimate partner abuse – A few misplaced words uttered in the heat of the moment can qualify as threats or harassment of an intimate partner under domestic violence law.
Your domestic violence case will often pit your word against that of the accuser. Unfortunately, the authorities tend to side with the accuser. But with help of an experienced Chicago domestic violence attorney, you can ensure that your side of the story gets heard and that your rights are given due respect as you confront the criminal justice system.
What Are the Consequences of a Domestic Violence Conviction?
A first offense for domestic violence will be treated as a Class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum sentence of one year in prison and $2,500 in fines. A second conviction is considered a Class 4 Felony, which involves a possible one to three-year sentence in addition to fines ranging up to $25,000. But there is more to a domestic violence conviction than just fines and jail time.
Other consequences may include:
- Court costs
- Lawyer’s fees
- Mandatory counseling and anger management classes as conditions of probation
- Lost custody of your children
- Losing your divorce case
- A permanent entry on your criminal record
- A ruined reputation
- For felons, restricted right to bear arms and to vote
- Trouble finding employment or applying to colleges
- For immigrants, possible deportation
The effects of a domestic violence conviction can be devastating. For this reason, you should spare no expense in standing up to the charges against you and clearing your name. You may think that pleading guilty is a good idea, but you should bear in mind the totality of the consequences of a conviction and consult with an experienced Chicago domestic violence attorney before making a decision.
How Can a Chicago Domestic Violence Attorney at O’Meara Law Help?
Many domestic violence cases are based on false accusations uttered by a spouse or co-parent seeking to affect the outcome of a divorce of child custody case. In other cases, the false accusations are motivated by a desire to hurt or to punish the other. Whatever the motivating factor behind the false accusations, your lawyer’s goal will be to uncover it. When a person’s motives for making false accusations are clear, the likelihood that a judge or jury will accept your side of the story is greater.
In addition to providing a motive for the false accusations, your lawyer will strive to portray you as a calm, gentle, and caring person. By presenting testimony from witnesses who can attest to your character, your lawyer can show the jury that you are not the kind of person who would strike, torment, or threaten a household member. Finally, your lawyer will work to disprove the testimony and evidence offered by the prosecutor. If your accuser or other witnesses have a history of lying, your lawyer can present evidence of their untrustworthiness to weaken the impact of their testimony.
Criminal trials are expensive, so your lawyer will do everything in their power to bring the charges against you to a resolution before the trial begins. Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, this may or may not be an option.
To learn more about what defense strategies may be available to you, call O’Meara Law today at 312-909-0706 for a free and confidential consultation.