How to Get a Restraining Order in Chicago

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Restraining orders in Illinois are found in the state's laws, so the basics of restraining orders in Chicago are similar to those used throughout the state. The Illinois statutes authorize orders of protection, no-contact orders and restraining orders.

All of these orders require the abuser to keep away from their victims and/or to stop harassing or stalking them. These orders are available throughout Illinois, including in the city of Chicago. There are different requirements to qualify for each type of order and different procedures for applying for an order.

Types of Illinois Restraining Orders

Orders of protection and no-contact orders are court-issued legal documents that prohibit or restrict certain specified contacts by a named individual. Generally every application for a restraining order involves at least two parties: the individual seeking the order (the petitioner) and the person to be restrained (the respondent.)

The individual seeking the protective order claims to be the victim of criminal behavior by the respondent. The respondent is the person who allegedly abused, harassed, stalked, threatened or injured the petitioner. The court hears from both parties before issuing a final restraining or protection order.

Domestic Violence Order of Protection

The most common type of restraining order in Illinois is the order of protection for domestic violence. This is a civil order of the district court that provides protection for victims of domestic violence. While domestic abuse is often between spouses, under Illinois law, domestic abuse includes abuse from any family member or household member, including:

  • Spouses or ex-spouses.
  • People who are dating or used to date.
  • Parents, step-parents or grandparents.
  • Children or step-children.
  • People who have a child in common regardless of whether they ever married or lived together.
  • Anyone related by blood through a child, like the child’s grandfather.
  • Anyone related by blood or by a current or former marriage.
  • People living together or who have lived together in the past.

It is also considered domestic abuse if a disabled person is abused by their personal assistant or caregiver. Likewise, it is domestic abuse when foster parents, adoptive parents, prospective adoptive parents or legally appointed guardians of a child are abused by the family or household member of a child.

Domestic Violence Definition

In order to get a domestic violence order of protection in Illinois, the petitioner must allege acts that constitute domestic violence under the state statute. The term includes many different types of abuse, like physical abuse, sexual abuse, assault or confinement, repeated sleep deprivation or any behavior that creates an immediate risk of physical harm.

Domestic violence also includes harassment, such as threatening the victim, creating a disturbance at the victim's work place or school, repeatedly phoning the victim in either place, repeatedly following the victim or keeping them under surveillance by lurking outside, staying outside of the victim's house, school or work, or peering into windows.

Hiding or threatening to hide the victim's child is also harassment, as is intimidation, coercing someone to do something they do not wish to do, and denying an elderly or disabled person the medication, medical care, shelter, food or other assistance that they need.

Types of Orders of Protection

In Illinois, including in Chicago, there are three levels of protection orders. The first is called an emergency protection order (EPO), the second is an interim protection order (IPO), and the last is a plenary or final protection order.

Emergency Protection Orders

Once a person applies for an order of protection in Illinois, the court can issue a temporary order on an emergency basis without the other party being notified or appearing at the hearing. This EPO is termed an ex parte order because it can be granted without the other party being notified or present. A temporary order restrains the other party in a variety of ways, depending on what is necessary to protect the petitioner.

For example, the order can exclude the respondent from a shared home or direct them to stay away from the petitioner's home and workplace. An emergency order in Chicago can remain in effect for 21 days. Once issued, it is immediately served on the party to be restrained, and the court schedules a final hearing on the order.

Interim Order of Protection

If the final hearing cannot be held within those 21 days, the court can issue an interim order of protection to extend the emergency protections until the final hearing. Since the IPO extends protection for up to 30 days, it is sometimes necessary for the court to issue more than one, if trial preparation is time-consuming.

Final Order of Protection

Both parties can appear and be heard by the court at a final hearing. The court then issues a plenary or final order. This order can be valid for two years, but can be extended by renewal.

Chicago Protection Order

In order to apply for an emergency protection order in Illinois, the individual must go to the circuit court where they live, where the abuser lives or where the abuse occurred. In Cook County, the county where Chicago is located, the Domestic Violence Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County centralizes the county administration of domestic violence court proceedings and related court services. In the city of Chicago, orders of protection are usually heard at the Domestic Violence Courthouse located at 555 West Harrison Street. If there happens to be a pending divorce case or juvenile case between the parties, the protection order issues can be transferred to the Daley Center at 50 W. Washington or the Juvenile Court at 1100 South Hamilton Street.

The petitioner needs to fill out a petition for an emergency order of protection. These are available to download from the court's website and also at the court. Domestic violence legal advocates may be available at the courthouse in Chicago to assist. The petition seeks information about the parties, their current addresses, and the details of the most recent incidents of abuse. The petitioner must sign it under penalty of perjury before the court clerk.

The clerk takes the form to a judge to review. They may ask the petitioner questions about their claims. From this information, the judge decides whether to issue the emergency order. If the order is issued, the court also sets a date for a full court hearing for the final or plenary order. The court papers, including the emergency order and notice of the final hearing date, are served on the respondent by law enforcement.

Attending the Final Hearing

The final hearing is also called the plenary hearing in Chicago. It is a noticed hearing, meaning it is only held after the responding party is served with notice of the time and place of the hearing. Both parties have the chance to come to court and give their side of the story.

If the petitioner doesn't appear, the temporary and interim orders are cancelled. If the respondent does not show up, the court can still issue a final order, but in some circumstances, the court will instead order a new hearing date.

Protections Possible With Orders

A final, or plenary, protection order in Chicago can be used to order the respondent to stop certain behavior or to stay away from particular people or places. The order can direct the respondent to stop harassing, abusing, stalking, intimidating, neglecting or exploiting the victim and to stop interfering with their personal liberty. If the parties live in one dwelling, the court order can direct the respondent to move out of, and not return to, the shared home. This is possible even if the respondent is the owner of the home or the primary renter.

But the Chicago plenary order can also order the respondent to participate in certain kinds of therapy, including psychological, substance abuse or batterers’ counseling. The order can also spell out which parent gets custody and how visitation will work to protect minor children. It can order financial support for the victim and their children and pets. It can also order the respondent to pay the victim for medical expenses, lost earnings, repairs to damaged property, attorney fees and court costs suffered as a result of the abuse.

The final order of protection can also contain a directive about the ownership or possession of firearms. It can order the respondent abuser to turn over their guns, firearms and firearm owner’s identification card to local law enforcement. The court's power here is broad and can include virtually anything necessary to prevent further abuse.

Enforcing the Protection Order

When an order of protection is issued, the petitioner should make copies and provide one to their workplace and school. Violation of certain provisions of the order can be prosecuted criminally in Chicago as a Class A misdemeanor, or, if the person has a prior criminal record, a Class 4 felony. Provisions of a protection order that require the abuser to attend counseling or substance abuse programs are not prosecuted criminally in Chicago, but rather as civil contempt of court.

Sexual Assault No-Contact Order

A petitioner can also seek a civil no-contact order. This is similar to a domestic violence order of protection and can offer protection to a victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct. The domestic violence order of protection is available only if the abuser is someone in a familial or household relationship with the victim, but a civil no-contact order is available even without a particular relationship between the parties.

The steps to getting a no-contact order in Chicago mirror those for seeking a domestic violence order of protection. The person to be protected completes the appropriate petition and files it at the circuit court. They can be granted an immediate emergency no-contact order ex parte, with no notice to the other party. A plenary hearing is then noticed and held by the court.

Stalking No-Contact Order

A petitioner can also seek a stalking no-contact order of protection in Chicago. This is available to any victim of stalking, and is not limited to those in a familial or household relationship with the abuser. Stalking is a “course of conduct” crime, meaning that the respondent must repeat the stalking behavior.

Acts that are considered stalking in Chicago include: monitoring, observing, spying on or threatening the other person, or interfering with their property or pets. The victim follows the same steps to get this protection order as for a domestic violence protection order.