If someone has been the victim of domestic violence in Illinois, they have a legal right to obtain an order of protection against their abuser. Domestic violence is any type of physical, verbal or mental abuse toward a family member or former partner. This might include a current or former romantic partner, parents, children, sibling or relatives by marriage. Domestic violence also covers those not related to each other but involved in a dating relationship. An order of protection legally stops the abuser from further contact with the victim.
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act, which was updated in January 2009, recognizes the seriousness of domestic violence in the state and emphasizes the safety that an order of protection can afford. There is no charge to file an order of protection. Victims do not need to file criminal charges in order to request an order of protection; however, they must file a police report. They can then request an order of protection in civil court. In extreme cases, the courts will grant an immediate order of protection.
Victims can file for an order of protection at numerous locations throughout the greater Chicago area and Cook County. Just a few of the locations include the New Domestic Violence Court Facility, Criminal Court, Civil Court or Domestic Relations Division and in some cases, the Child Support Division, Probate Division or the Juvenile Justice Division. Victims should go to the court that relates most closely to their case. If they are unsure where to go, they can contact the Clerk’s Domestic Violence Liaison at (312)325-9467 or a local domestic violence shelter for additional help.
Chicago courts offer several types of orders of protection. The first one, an emergency order of protection, lasts for 14 to 21 days. The second one, an interim order of protection protects victims for up to 30 days. These two court directors are intended to act as temporary measures to provide for the victim’s safety. A plenary order of protection remains in effect for as long as two years and is only granted after a formal hearing.
Offenders who violate orders of protection can be charged with contempt of court. Penalties for this misdemeanor offense can include up to a year in jail and/or fines.