How To Obtain An Order of Protection
Illinois Domestic Violence Advocates & Support Contacts
Domestic violence includes a number of crimes: assault or threats of assault; battery or physically injuring someone without a weapon; and coercion or using force to compel someone to engage in conduct against their will. Harassment, sexual assault, unlawful imprisonment, stalking and even destruction of property may also constitute domestic violence. A spouse is not the only person who can be a victim of domestic violence. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act, it can be a former spouse, someone you live or lived with, a blood relative or same-sex partner.
An Order of Protection is a court order, comprised of 17 specific "remedies," which either prohibits or proscribes certain conduct by the abuser. The remedies order the abuser to stop the abuse, to stay away from your home, your work place and your family, and direct the person to have no contact with you - including no phone calls, letters, etc. An order can also award temporary custody of children, award child and spousal support, and order the abuser to give up any firearms.
Orders of Protection can be filed in civil or criminal court. If obtained in civil court, no criminal charges will be filed. In order to file in criminal court, however, the victim must be willing to file criminal charges to have the order granted.
There are two types of Orders of Protection: an ex parte emergency order and a plenary order. In an emergency order, a judge grants the order based solely on evidence and testimony by the petitioner, without holding a hearing or obtaining the abuser's knowledge or consent. This order will be in effect until a court hearing can be held, within 14-21 days of filing your petition. A plenary order is issued after a full hearing with both parties present. The plenary order protects the victim for a period up to two years.
If you need to obtain and Order of Protection and do not have a lawyer, there are several steps you should take. Go to the courthouse in the county where you reside.
If you wish to file criminal charges or the abuser has already been arrested and you want to obtain an Order of Protection, you must speak to your local State's Attorney's Office. If you wish to obtain an Order of Protection in civil court, find the civil court clerk and request a petition for an emergency order of protection.
Fill out the petition carefully and be specific. Include details and dates of the abuse, if possible.
Do not sign the petition until you have shown it to a clerk because the form may have to be "notarized" (signed in the presence of court personnel).
After a judge reviews your petition, the judge will issue his or her decision based on whether you need immediate protection.
Once you receive the order, you'll need to return to court for a hearing. Respond to the court's Notice of Hearing, which indicates the date when you must return. You must attend this proceeding. If you do not, the judge may dismiss your case and furthermore, require you to pay court fees. The abuser also will be served by the sheriff's office with a Notice of Hearing.
Be prepared for the hearing where you will tell your story. You'll need evidence such as witnesses to prove your statements about the incident.
If you receive an Order of Protection, review the document before leaving the courthouse. Keep it with you at all times.
There is no filing fee to obtain an Order of Protection; however, the court may order the "respondent" (the abuser) to pay a fee.
If the abuser violates the order, even if you think it is minor, call the police or sheriff. Some violations constitute a class A misdemeanor which carry a punishment of up to 364 days in jail. All other remedies are enforced through contempt of court proceedings.
If a petitioner requests a modification or extension of a current order of protection, the petitioner should, in criminal court, notify the local State's Attorney's Office and in civil court, file the appropriate motion with the clerk's office.
NOTE: The information contained herein does not constitute legal advice.