How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record?

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record

Being accused of domestic violence is a serious situation. In Illinois, if convicted, you may face a criminal case in court and can be charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony. Punishments include monetary fines and, quite often, jail time.

Additionally, being convicted of domestic violence goes on your record and can affect you for the rest of your life.

Have you been accused of domestic violence? If so, you should immediately obtain legal representation. You need to take every step necessary to protect yourself and your future. The attorneys at Wolf & Stec are experts in domestic violence law and provide top-notch representation to their clients. Contact them today at 630-305-0222.

What Is Domestic Violence?

The Law in Illinois

If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is critical that you understand the law and how it is legislated locally. The state of Illinois takes domestic violence very seriously. In fact, in 1982 the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ICADC) worked tirelessly to develop the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA). This legislation is constantly under review in order to ensure it remains relevant. The goal is to protect those who may be in danger.

Years ago, the government passed the IDVA and the law is strongly enforced today.  In fact, the Office of the  Attorney General of Illinois states on its website that “any person who hits, chokes, kicks, threatens, harasses, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member has broken Illinois Domestic Violence law.”

Understanding Domestic Violence and Relationships

While violence, in general, may be illegal, the law in Illinois sets out specific relationships where certain behaviors can be defined as domestic violence. These include:

  • Blood relatives (including parents, children, and stepchildren)
  • People who live together (or those who did so in the past)
  • Married or divorced/separated couples
  • Parents of a child
  • Individuals who are dating each other or who used to date each other (this includes same-sex couples)
  • Individuals with disabilities and their caregivers.

For violence to be categorized as domestic, a specific relationship, including the ones listed above, must exist.

Actions that Constitute Domestic Violence

Sometimes people do not anticipate the consequences of their actions. This is often true when one person is accused of domestic violence. The acts in question do not have to be physical. Domestic violence charges can be brought against you for several behaviors, some more serious than others. These can include:

  • Physical violence (like hitting or pushing)
  • Sexual violence (forcing sex or sexual acts upon another person)
  • Stalking
  • Withholding access to children
  • Threatening
  • Harassment (verbal, written, or electronic)
  • Keeping someone captive.

This list is not all-inclusive. If you have questions about your behavior and wonder if it can be considered domestic violence, contact an attorney at Wolf & Stec. They will take the time to understand your situation and provide you with advice and guidance on your personal situation.

The Impact of Domestic Violence Charges and Convictions to Your Record

Have You Been Arrested for and Charged with Domestic Violence?

If you are charged with domestic violence, it is time to engage a qualified attorney, one who understands both the state laws as well as local processes and procedures. Domestic violence is a serious accusation, one which has significant repercussions that may include jail time. It can follow you throughout the course of your life.

Domestic Violence Penalties

In Illinois, the courts take domestic violence charges and convictions quite seriously; the legal penalties and punishments reflect this. The crime with which you are charged will determine the severity of the consequences. Domestic violence can be characterized as either domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery. Both are described below.

  • Domestic Battery: If you are accused of purposely harming a member of your family or household (in one of the ways discussed earlier) you may be charged with domestic battery, a Class A misdemeanor. That said, your previous behaviors can influence the charges. For example, if you have had previous legal concerns, including other domestic battery convictions, or if your actions involve sexual assault, a child, or a firearm, the charge will be raised to a Class 4 felony, which is more serious. Previous convictions of other violent crimes also result in elevated outcomes.

    The difference between the two charges is considerable when sentencing takes place. The maximum sentence of someone convicted of a Class A misdemeanor is less than a year in prison and fines not to exceed $2,500.  When charges are increased to a Class 4 felony, the maximum sentence is 6 years in jail and fines up to $25,000 — quite a difference.  In cases where the convicted person has more than one conviction, charges and penalties will be even more severe.

  • Aggravated Domestic Battery: The more serious of the two types of domestic violence crimes — aggravated domestic battery — is charged when victims experience more devastating injuries, including disfigurement, great bodily harm, strangulation, or a permanent disability. These charges are regarded as a Class 2 felony, which comes with a mandatory 60-day jail term, even if the sentence is for probation. Prior convictions for the same crime make the punishment even more harsh, a minimum of a three-year prison term.

Other issues can impact sentencing. Your criminal attorney can review your case and the evidence against you. He or she will be able to explain additional factors that may affect you.

Do Domestic Violence Charges Go Away?

If you have been charged or convicted of domestic violence, either domestic battery or aggravated domestic battery, you should be concerned about your record and your future.

Both domestic violence charges and convictions go on your record.

Some individuals, while charged, are never convicted. Perhaps you were not found guilty, or maybe the court dropped the charges (something that could happen for a variety of reasons). If you are in the position of being charged but not convicted, you can request that the Court remove the charges from your record. It is important to recognize that this is not an automatic occurrence; you must actively pursue this.

If you are found guilty, the domestic violence charge will remain on your record forever. There is no legal way to have it removed. This designation can negatively impact you for the remainder of your life. For example, many employment applications ask whether you have been convicted of a crime; some ask whether you have even been charged with one. While some specify felonies, others do not make the distinction. Many employers are hesitant to hire individuals in this position.

Knowing this, it is even more important to work with a reputable and skilled defense attorney, one who is experienced in domestic violence cases. You must improve your chances of a more favorable verdict. The odds of this occurring increase when you have expert legal representation.  

How Long Does Domestic Violence Stay on Your Record

High-Quality Criminal Defense Attorneys That Can Help You

Wolf & Stec is a well-regarded firm in Illinois in the area of criminal defense law. We have extensive experience defending individuals charged with domestic violence and a proven track record of providing them quality representation.

Our goal is to protect your rights and defend you against all the criminal charges which you are facing. We understand the gravity of your situation; the outcome of it may affect where you can live, the ability to care for your children and where you can work. Additionally, you may face jail time and fines. The mark on your permanent record will influence you for the remainder of your life. After all, the answer to the question “how long does domestic violence stay on your record” is “forever.”

If you have been accused of domestic violence, contact the criminal defense attorneys at Wolf & Stec at 630-305-0222 immediately. We will provide you with a high-quality defense aimed at protecting your life, your rights and your future.