Chicago Order of Protection Attorneys

Domestic violence can have a severe impact on victims, so individuals facing allegations of engaging in such acts should seek immediate legal advice to protect their rights and interests. While a household or family member who suffers physical abuse could seek an order of protection based on allegations of domestic violence, the conduct that can justify such an order extends beyond physical acts. Your relationship with the party seeking the order of protection might be strained, which could make the prospect of “no contact orders” acceptable. However, the informal process of obtaining these orders could have other consequences that are not so acceptable, such as residential exclusion, impairment of your child custody and visitation rights, and an adverse impact on your career.

Obtaining Orders of Protection in Chicago [Illinois Domestic Violence Act 750 ILCS 60/

An order of protection under this provision of Illinois laws can only be granted if a covered relationship between the parties exists and the alleged offending conduct meets the statutory requirements. The statute generally provides that domestic violence is conduct between parties that currently or previously shared a family or household relationship.

The relationships specifically covered by the statute include:

  • Married or formerly married spouses
  • Relatives by blood or marriage
  • Parties who currently or formerly shared a residence
  • Couples currently or formerly engaged in a dating relationship
  • Co-parents
  • Disabled parties (including adults) and their personal assistants

The Domestic Violence Act provides that protective orders can be granted when abuse occurs between parties to the relationships listed above, but the definition of “abuse” is much broader than acts of physical violence.

The statute prohibits a wide spectrum of conduct that includes:

  • Intimidation to compel the victim to do something
  • Willful deprivation (excluding reasonable acts of parenting)
  • Physically abusive conduct (e.g. kicking, punching, slapping, etc.)
  • Destruction of the victim’s property
  • Stalking and harassment (includes threatening voicemails)
  • Denying access to care or refusing to properly care for an elderly or disabled adult
  • Interference with the victim’s physical liberty

Process for Seeking Domestic Violence Protective Orders

If the police arrest a party to a relationship covered under the statue based on an abuse allegation, an emergency order of protection will take affect that forbids the accused from contacting the victim and requires the alleged perpetrator to vacate the family home. These are short-term orders that will be in effect for only 72 hours.

Filing for an Emergency Protective Order (EPO)

In other situations, the party seeking the protective order must file paperwork that includes a Petition for an Order of Protection to commence a civil action. The request for protective orders can also be sought as part of a pending divorce. The petition requesting the protective order must confirm information about the relationship between the parties and the abuse that constitutes the basis for seeking relief from the court.

The initial filing can be granted on an emergency basis without notice to the party who is limited by the Emergency Protective Order (EPO). Because the court can grant an EPO the same day, the person whose conduct is restricted usually will not receive notice until he or she is served with the order. If the judge finds that the appropriate relationship exists between the parties and that the petitioner’s allegations of abuse are credible, the judge must grant the EPO. The judge can deny the request if the victim has not demonstrated the required relationship and the acts complained of constitute abuse by the other party. The judge also can grant the order on an emergency basis or decide whether to grant orders after a hearing if no emergency exists. However, the bar is set low in obtaining EPO orders because of the potential threat to the safety of the victim and the short duration of the orders.

Since the order is obtained without notice or an opportunity to be heard, the EPO only lasts for 14 to 21 days. When the order is served on the party who is restrained, he or she will receive notice of the hearing for the judge to consider the plenary (longterm order). Since court congestion or the complexity of the case can mean that this timeframe cannot be accommodated, the judge might need to grant an Interim Order after the other party has been served, or multiple attempts have been made to serve him or her. These orders cover the duration of time between hearing up to 30 days and can be renewed by the judge.

Hearing for Plenary Protective Orders

At the hearing, the court will consider admissible evidence regarding the alleged conduct and relationship of the parties to determine whether to approve a plenary order. Plenary orders last two years but can be renewed by the judge. The court will review evidence of abuse that might include medical records, police reports, criminal court records, witness testimony, and other relevant evidence to determine whether to approve the request.

The judge will consider the evidence to determine whether to grant or deny the request. If the judge decides to approve the request for protective orders, the court will order the party “restrained” by the order not to contact the victim and to vacate any shared residence.

Although an order of protection is a civil order, a violation can carry serious consequences that include:

  • Being held in contempt (can mean jail time)
  • Criminal charges that result in jail time and fines
  • Loss of your job if you need a security clearance or a firearm
  • Unfavorable child custody and visitation orders

Distinguishing Stalking No Contact Orders of Protection

If an alleged abuse victim seeks protection orders against someone who does not fall into the household and family relationships defined by the Domestic Violence Act, he or she can seek similar protections in the form of a stalking no contact order of protection. The broad definition of stalking under Illinois law includes at least two acts that would make reasonable people fear for their safety or experience emotional distress. While civil orders of protection depend on the relationship between the parties, stalking order can be granted even when the parties are strangers. Any party who has been stalked, or the parent of a child who has been stalked, can seek this type of protective order.

The process of obtaining a stalking order is comparable to the procedures for filing for a civil order of protection. An application for the stalking order must be completed under penalty of perjury and filed with the court. The judge will evaluate the information and the incidents in the application to determine whether an emergency order should be granted. If the order is granted, the party accused of stalking typically will receive notice of the hearing when he or she is served with the emergency stalking protective order, which expires in 21 days. As with the civil protective order EPO, the court can grant the order if the information in the sworn petition is credible and complies with the legal requirements.

While the hearing on whether to grant a plenary order of two yeas mirrors the civil protective order process, the consequences of the judge issuing the order are different. The stalking protective order does not completely bar contact between the victim and the alleged perpetrator. Rather, the party targeted by the stalking order cannot contact the protected parties without their permission, which includes all forms of communication including texting, email, and telephonic contact. The stalking order will also forbid the restricted party from tracking the location or movement of the protected party.

Penalties for Violations of Protective Orders

If you are accused of violating an order of protection, you can face criminal penalties. The first violation of an order of protection could result in a Class A misdemeanor charge which is punishable by a maximum of 1 year in jail and a fine up to $2,500. If you have a prior conviction for violating a restraining order, you could face exposure to a felony record, 1 to 3 years incarceration, and a potential fine of $25,000.

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