Exposing False Allegations and Prosecutor Overcharging Decisions--Cook County Domestic Violence Lawyer
Because of the political pressure on prosecutors to appear tough on allegations involving domestic violence toward a spouse, significant other or co-parent, law enforcement agencies and prosecutors have become extremely aggressive about pursuing allegations of domestic violence in Illinois. While family violence against a spouse, significant other or anyone else with whom one resides is a serious issue, domestic violence allegations are among the most common to be fabricated, exaggerated or used for an improper purpose.
Many Chicago domestic violence charges arise out of the context of a marriage that is deteriorating or child custody dispute because of the strategic advantages that accrue to a person who can establish that the other party in their family law dispute has committed acts of domestic violence. There are other situations where an ordinary family disagreement is exaggerated by one of the parties who may later try to recant once cooler heads have prevailed. Unfortunately, Cook County prosecutors can and often do pursue these cases even when the alleged victim has recanted and no longer wishes to pursue criminal charges.What Constitutes Domestic Violence in Illinois?
Domestic battery is defined as “physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation” of another member of the household or family as defined under 750 ILCS 60. Under Illinois law, domestic violence is classified as a violent criminal offense. If you are arrested for conduct or an incident involving domestic violence, you may be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor or even a Class 4 Felony if you have a criminal history that includes prior convictions for domestic violence. The sentence associated with a conviction of misdemeanor domestic violence involves serious penalties that include up to one year incarceration in county jail and a maximum fine of up to $2,500. If you have prior convictions resulting in a Class 4 Felony charge you may be sentenced from one to three years in state prison and a maximum fine as high as $25,000. Other penalties may include mandatory counseling, anger management classes and probation.
These formal penalties are compounded by the long-term consequences of a domestic violence conviction, including but not limited to the following:
- Difficulty obtaining jobs or occupational and professional licenses
- Removal or exclusion from entry to the U.S. for non-citizens along with other immigration consequences
- Disqualification for admission to colleges, suspension or expulsion
- Restrictions on where you can live
- Presumption against joint custody of your minor children
- Potential limits on gun ownership
- Loss of certain Constitutional rights if convicted of a felony
- Visitation of your children potentially limited to supervised (monitored) visitation
While domestic violence is a serious issue, the broad scope of the statute places an enormous amount of discretion with the prosecutor so it is imperative to retain an experienced Chicago domestic violence defense attorney as soon as you are aware that you may be charged. Because David L. Freidberg has handled many domestic violence cases, he recognizes the value of early intervention which may prevent formal charges from being filed. There are strong presumptions in favor of spouses and parents in family law cases in Illinois that create an enormous incentive to “trump up” false claims of domestic abuse. Chicago criminal defense lawyer David L. Freidberg investigates such motivations and aggressively conducts cross-examination to expose improper motivations and false testimony.
The Illinois domestic violence statute is extremely broad in terms of the persons covered by the statute and conduct that may constitute an offense. The situations encompassed by the domestic violence statute in Illinois may include the following:
- Elder Abuse: If you live with an aging parent or other loved one, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or mental illness can cause the senior to be confrontational and even violent. Sometimes domestic violence allegations arise out of these types of confrontations where the caregiver residing with his or her aging loved one is simply trying to prevent the senior from injuring the accused, another member of the household or even the purported victim. 320 ILCS 20/1
- Spousal Abuse: Many times disputes between husband and wife can be misinterpreted or overblown when reported to law enforcement authorities. Because of the close scrutiny of domestic violence allegations by advocacy groups and the media, minor incidents that result in no genuine harm may still result in a domestic violence charge.
- Intimate Partner Abuse (Abuse of a Co-Parent): Many disputes between a boyfriend and girlfriend result in pending charges of domestic violence sometimes for something as simple as blocking access to the front door, an open handed slap on the face or a push of a significant other. These same situations often arise between parents of a child.
Domestic abuse charges may arise out of a wide range of situations even when there is no actual contact and the alleged victims suffer no actual injury. Acts that may constitute domestic violence include but are not limited to the following:
- Acts of intimidation or threats of harm
- An open handed slap
- Marital rape
- Punching, shoving or kicking
- Sexual abuse
There are three common forms of domestic violence cases in Illinois:
- Domestic Battery: This type of offense involves conduct by the alleged perpetrator that amounts to intentionally or knowingly inflicting bodily harm or imposing physical contact in a provoking or insulting way without legal justification. 750 ILCS 60
- Telephone Harassment: Harassment using the telephone is the most common form of domestic violence harassment case in Illinois. The prosecutor may charge you with telephone harassment if you use the phone to threaten, express obscene comments, inflict verbal abuse, repeatedly call or engage in other forms of harassment using the telephone. This type of charge is not limited to the telephone but extends to other forms of electronic communication like email, Facebook messages and text messages. 720 ILCS 5/26.5-2
- Stalking: While there are instances of stalking that involve serious threats to the safety of others, the Illinois stalking statute is so broad it applies to many innocent situations that represent common interactions between dating couples. A boyfriend trying to reconcile with a girlfriend may face a stalking charge simply because he is “persistent” in trying to reconcile. 720 ILCS 5/12-7.3
While it is one of the worst kept secrets in Illinois, the Chicago police do not openly discuss their clearly established policy of arresting a person alleged to have committed domestic violence no matter how patently false the claim appears. Further, there is a clear bias against men when police are called out on domestic disturbance calls because men are typically physically stronger and statistically more likely to be the perpetrator. Unfortunately, there are plenty of bitter ex-wives, jealous current girlfriends and jilted ex-girlfriends that use domestic violence charges to exact revenge for real or imagined wrongs.
Because Mr. Freidberg has been representing those accused of domestic violence related offenses for over a decade and a half, he understands that these allegations often are false or misleading. Further, fabricated domestic violence allegations can be a powerful tool when used by an unscrupulous complaining witness with improper motivations. Our experienced Chicago domestic violence lawyers carefully investigate the facts to identify inconsistencies and contradictions made by the alleged victim so that we can obtain a dismissal, acquittal or reduced charge. Our Illinois domestic violence law firm offers a confidential consultation so that we can explain your legal rights and potential defenses. We invite you to contact us at 312-560-7100 or email us to learn how we can begin fighting for you.