If you have been charged with domestic battery, the prosecution must still prove all the elements of your offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Under one definition, the state must prove you were in a dating relationship. But how much of a relationship is enough?

Under Illinois law, a defendant is guilty of domestic battery if he or she causes bodily harm to any family or household member. (See 720 ILCS 5/12- 3.2(a)(1). A family or household member can be someone who has or has had a dating or engagement relationship with you, but does not include a casual acquaintanceship or include ordinary fraternization between two individuals in a business or social context.

Illinois courts have considered a dating relationship to be a serious courtship that is at least an established relationship with a significant romantic focus. One court did not find a dating relationship where both defendant and victim engaged in random sexual encounters which were physical in nature and not romantic, and where both denied they were dating. However, another court did find a dating relationship where the parties had dated for six weeks and continued to have sex until the offense occurred.

The determination of whether you are in a dating relationship can be very fact specific. Different judges may perceive those same facts very differently. Therefore, it is important to have an attorney who is familiar with the courthouse and the outlook of your particular judge.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email

References: People v. Wallace and People v. Irvine.

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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