If you have been abused, threatened, followed, or harassed by another person, you can ask the court to order them to stop. This is known as a restraining order, an order of protection, or a no-contact order.
Who is Eligible for a No-Contact Order?
Anyone who has been a victim of abuse, harassment, stalking, and repeated, unwanted contact may request a no-contact order. The type of order you should seek to obtain depends on the relationship you have with the perpetrator, if any, and the nature of the conduct you want stopped.
Types of No-Contact Orders
Domestic Violence Orders of Protection
If a family member or someone who has lived in your household commits domestic violence against you or your minor child, you should consider pursuing an order of protection. Illinois law defines domestic violence as physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation.
Physical abuse includes sexual abuse, and may also be:
- The use of physical force.
- Purposeful sleep deprivation.
- Conduct that poses “an immediate risk of physical harm.”
Harassment is conduct that causes you emotional distress, and can include:
- Creating a disturbance at your work or school.
- Following you.
- Keeping you under surveillance.
- Threatening to harm you.
- Hiding your child from you.
Intimidation of a dependent is when the abuser forces you to participate in or witness abuse of another person.
Interference with personal liberty is when the abuser threatens to harm you if you don’t do what they say.
Willful deprivation is when the abuser exposes a dependent to harm by denying them food, medication, shelter, or other necessities.
If you are granted an order of protection, the judge may order the abuser to stop their behavior, stay away from you, your children, and your job, and even move out of your home. Orders of protection may also prohibit the abuser from possessing firearms and from taking, hiding, or damaging your property.
Civil No-Contact Orders
If you are a victim of sexual assault and you do not have a relationship with the abuser, a court order called a civil no-contact order can offer similar protections. In a civil no-contact order, the judge may order the abuser to stay away from you, as well as your home, job, school, children, pets, and property. The order may also prohibit the abuser from contacting you, either directly or indirectly through a third party.
Stalking No-Contact Orders
Stalking no-contact orders make it illegal for someone to contact you without your permission. They provide protection for people who do not qualify for domestic violence orders of protection. If you are a victim of stalking, a judge may order the stalker to stop through a stalking no-contact order.
The Illinois Stalking No Contact Order Act defines stalking broadly as any course of conduct that causes you to fear for your safety. If the abuser does any of the following, their behavior may qualify as stalking.
- Following you
- Surveilling you
- Threatening you
- Coming to your home, school, or job
- Contacting you via phone, text, email, or social media
- Vandalizing your property
- Injuring your pets
How to File for a No-Contact Order
You may file for a no-contact order in the Illinois circuit court where you live, where the abuser lives, or where the abuse happened. You will be required to fill out a form called a petition and submit it to the court for review.
When the judge reviews your petition, s/he may grant a temporary emergency order that goes into effect immediately. A date will also be set for a court hearing.
The temporary order and notice of the hearing date must then be served to the abuser. The abuser can’t be charged with violating the order until service is complete. Generally, a police officer or other member of law enforcement will do this. Do not serve the papers yourself.
At the hearing, the judge will decide how long the order will be in effect. You must show up to the hearing. If you don’t, your no-contact order will be canceled. Your Peoria no-contact order lawyer will help you prepare for this hearing.
Consequences of Violating a No-Contact Order
Violating a no-contact order is a crime and the consequences are serious.
Violation of an Order of Protection
A violation of an Illinois domestic violence order of protection is a Class A Misdemeanor. However, the violation may become a Class 4 Felony if the defendant has violated an order of protection in the past or been convicted for certain violent crimes. They include:
- First-degree murder
- Domestic battery
- Sexual assault
- Unlawful restraint
- Aggravated discharge of a firearm
Violation of a Civil No-Contact Order
A first violation of a civil no-contact order is a Class A Misdemeanor. Any second or subsequent violation is a Class 4 Felony. The court may also enforce the order through civil contempt proceedings.
Violation of a Stalking No-Contact Order
Violations of stalking no-contact orders are also enforceable through both criminal and civil contempt proceedings. A first violation of a stalking no-contact order is a Class A Misdemeanor, and any following violations are Class 4 Felonies.
Changing or Extending a No-Contact Order
To modify or extend your no-contact order, you will have to go back to the court where the order was issued. You will then file a petition to modify the order.
In your petition, you can request that additional protections be added to the order and that the expiration date of the order be extended. You must apply for an extension before your original order expires.
The Many Forms of Abuse
It is not always easy to know if you are being abused, especially if you are not being harmed physically. Abuse can take many forms, including emotional and psychological manipulation tactics that you might not have realized are abusive. You may wonder if you are overreacting or you may find yourself excuses for the other person’s behavior.
Unfortunately, abusive behavior tends to get worse over time and can put your safety and well-being in serious jeopardy. No matter the kind of abuse, a no-contact order can help protect you. If you are worried about your or your child’s safety and would like to learn more about your legal options, please feel free to reach out to us with questions.