In Illinois, the offense of domestic battery requires that you have caused bodily harm or made insulting or provoking contact with any family or household member. But what is a family or household member?

A blood relative or a spouse seems to obviously fit the definition. The law has further applied to significant others or live-in partners. But how much of a relationship is enough before the law applies?

Illinois courts have held that the law applies to persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship. This does not include a casual acquaintanceship or ordinary fraternization between two people in a business or social context. The dating relationship must have a romantic focus. A single date or a brief, nonexclusive relationship are also not enough to trigger the law.

And what if your relationship is over? How long must it be over? In Illinois, there does not seem to be a conclusive answer. However, a recent Illinois Appelalte Court decision held that a dating relationship that had ended 15 years previously did not fall within the statute because the romantic intimacy was clearly over. See People v Gray.

If you have been arrested for domestic battery or a similar offense, contact an experienced criminal lawyer immediately. As with most crimes, the state must prove the elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. If you are not a family or household member, then the stiffer penalties of the domestic battery law might not apply.

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

(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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