When people think of facing domestic violence charges, they typically think of physical abuse. Hitting, punching, kicking, and even choking are just some of the most common forms of physical domestic violence. Just as physical abuse is the most common type people think of when they hear the term ‘domestic violence,’ the law in Illinois also mainly considers physical abuse as domestic violence. However, there are times when domestic violence that involves emotional abuse can lead to criminal charges, so it is important to understand what those situations are and how a domestic violence lawyer can help if you have been accused of certain types of emotional abuse.

Domestic Violence Defined
The legal definition of domestic violence is sexual abuse, physical force, confinement, restraint, purposeful and repeated sleep deprivation, and any behavior which immediately threatens a person’s physical well-being.

These definitions do not cover emotional abuse as people tend to think of it. Emotional abuse typically involves yelling, belittling, preventing people from seeing family and friends, and undermining the victim’s confidence and sense of self-worth.

The law does not specifically address the issue of emotional abuse. Still, there are certain times when emotional abuse can constitute a criminal offense.

When Is Emotional Abuse a Criminal Offense?
Sometimes emotional abuse can be considered a criminal offense. This is when:

  • The behavior creates a disturbance at the victim’s work or school
  • One person repeatedly follows another in public places
  • One person surveils a person at their home, school, work, or vehicle
  • A person threatens physical force, confinement, or restraint more than once
  • A person is willfully deprived of medication, shelter, food, or other basic need 
  • A person forces another person to witness abuse, deprivation, or restraint against another person

When any of these actions are taken, a person may face charges of harassment, stalking, or other criminal charges.

How a Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
Many domestic violence cases involve one person’s word against the others. However, this is particularly true in cases when one person alleges emotional abuse. These cases are often more difficult to prove than physical domestic violence, as there are no physical marks such as bruises or broken bones. This does not mean though, that individuals accused of this behavior should go through it alone.

A solid defense is still necessary in emotional abuse cases. The alleged victim may have taken out a restraining order, which they will use to serve as proof that the behavior happened and has been happening for some time. Witness statements can also corroborate the alleged victim’s story, even if those statements are untrue. A criminal defense lawyer will refute those claims and build a strong defense to help those accused.

A Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Provide the Defense You Need
If you are facing domestic violence charges of any kind, it is crucial that you speak to a skilled criminal defense lawyer right away. He or she will know how to defend against domestic violence cases whether they involve allegations of physical or emotional abuse. If you are facing charges, call a lawyer today to schedule a consultation.