Mar 21, 2022

How Restraining Orders Work in the State of Illinois

How Restraining Orders Work in the State of Illinois

If you believe someone wishes to do you harm, you need to learn about restraining orders and orders of protection. You may have heard of one or both of these terms and assumed that they referred to the same practice, but they do not. Read on to learn how restraining orders work in the state of Illinois and how they differ from orders of protection.

What Is a Restraining Order?

A restraining order is actually a broad term that refers to orders given in a civil court that prevent someone from doing something. While restraining orders may refer to protections against abuse, they do not have to. Most often, restraining orders see use in divorce cases when one spouse wishes to prevent the other from canceling an insurance policy.

What Is an Order of Protection?

When you hear “restraining order,” you’re probably thinking about an order of protection. Unlike restraining orders, orders of protection refer to specific orders meant to protect someone from domestic violence (coming from another member of the household). Orders of protection are easier to enforce than restraining orders, and come with more severe penalties.

Who Is Eligible?

You cannot get an order of protection against anyone. Instead, for an order of protection to be issued, you must have:

  • A blood relative of the offender (by marriage or by blood)
  • Shared a common home with the offender
  • A child with the offender (or allegedly have a child with the offender)
  • A blood relationship with the offender through a child
  • A dating relationship with the offender

Additionally, you may receive an order of protection if you have disabilities and have been abused by a family member or caregiver.

What Protections Do Orders Offer?

Orders of protection have the potential to help in several ways. Depending on your circumstances, your order of protection may cover one, some, or all of the following factors. An order of protection can:

  • Bar the abuser from committing abusive acts and threats
  • Keep the offender away from you and others protected by the order (like your children and people who live with you)
  • Prevent the abuser from contacting you
  • Keep the offender away from your school, work, or home
  • Compel the abuser to enter treatment or counseling
  • Make the offender pay child support or give up custody of a child
  • Compel the abuser to move out of your shared home

How Restraining Orders Work in the State of Illinois

The Consequences of Violating an Order

Whether you think the offender has violated the order in a major or minor way, call the police or local sheriff. Once you have an order, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act makes it a legal requirement for the police to take all reasonable steps to prevent the offender from abusing you further. This includes arresting the offender.

When the police arrive, show them your copy of the order (if you do not have a copy, you can have them verify its existence over the phone or through radio with local law enforcement). If the police don’t arrest the offender, you may be able to file for civil contempt nonetheless. If you wish to do so, go to the clerk’s office where you originally got the order and request the necessary forms.

Regardless of the result of the police responding to your call, request the names and badge numbers of the officers who arrive. This information is essential if you want to follow up on the case.

The initial consequences of violating an order of protection are severe, and the severity increases if the offender violates the order again. Initially, a violation is classified as a Class A misdemeanor, which carries the potential of up to 364 days in jail and a fine. The next violation is considered a Class 4 felony and comes with increased jail time, as well as a permanent criminal record.

How You Can Get an Order of Protection

The first step to getting an order of protection for yourself is to contact a domestic violence lawyer in Chicago. While you can begin the process on your own, you are much more likely to succeed with the help of a professional. Once you talk through your case with your lawyer, you and your attorney will proceed to the next step.

Next, go to your local circuit court (you can also go to the circuit court where the abuse occurred or where the abuser lives). Seek out the circuit court clerk and ask for a petition for an emergency order of protection. The clerk will give you the necessary forms, which you must fill out. On the forms, you will be referred to as the “petitioner,” and the abuser is known as the “respondent.”

You will need to recount the most recent incident of violence, and you should be as descriptive as possible. Include as many details and dates as you can—this will help show the court the severity of the situation.

Once you fill out the petition, bring it back to the clerk. They will file it and forward it to a judge. You may need to answer the judge’s questions as they review your petition, after which the judge will decide whether or not to issue the order.

If the judge does issue the order, it will be an “emergency order of protection,” which is not a permanent order of protection. The emergency order comes with a date for a full hearing and, if the hearing is successful, you will end up with a plenary order of protection, which lasts for two years and can be indefinitely renewed.

Interim Order of Protection

We’ve already discussed emergency and plenary orders of protection, but Illinois has a third type of order. An interim order of protection lasts up to 30 days and is designed to fill the gap between when an emergency order expires and a plenary order takes effect. This can occur when the hearing for a plenary order cannot be scheduled for some time.

The alleged abuser must appear before the judge or receive notification of the plenary hearing before an interim order can be issued.

Now that you know how restraining orders work in the state of Illinois, do what’s best for yourself and your family and contact a domestic violence lawyer today.

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