Order of Protection
An order of protection is a court order that is meant to protect its holder from harm by a person named in the order. It is also commonly known as a domestic violence protection order.
The order is issued to stop suspected abusers from contacting, harming or stalking victims. The court may also grant a similar protection to the children of the victim from such abuse.
A person looking to get a protective order has three options to obtain assistance.
- They can file for online assistance that helps them understand how to fill the paperwork needed for an order of protection. There are many shelters and charities that seek to provide counseling to victims.
- They can obtain online paperwork directly from the county office and fill it in before bringing it to the court.
- They can get in touch with a legal practice that can complete the necessary paperwork and help them prepare their case.
Orders of protection are covered under 750 ILCS 60/2. The law states that the following type of people can petition in court to get an order of protection.
- A person who is being abused by a family or household member.
- A high-risk adult with disabilities, who is being abused, neglected or exploited by a family or household member.
- A person residing or employed at a private home or public shelter which is housing abused family or household member.
- A minor child or dependant adult in the care of the abused adult.
A person can file an order of protection on behalf of a child or an adult who is incapable of filing the petition because of age, health, disability or any other factor. A person filing on behalf of another must be a family member or household member of the person against whom the order of protection is being filed.
The order can be filed against any person, including a minor less than 18 years of age. The person accused of abuse is given an opportunity to respond in court and defend against the claims of the petitioner.Considerations
There are two key things to consider for an order of protection. First, the order must be filed against a family or household member. Second, the person must be accused of abuse, neglect or exploitation.Family or Household Member
The Illinois Domestic Violence Act defines family or household member as one of the following.
- Spouses and former spouses
- Parents, children, stepchildren and anyone else related by blood
- People who currently share or previously shared a common dwelling
- People who have had a child in common or share a blood relationship due to a child
- People who are dating or otherwise romantically involved
- A disabled person and their caregiver/personal assistant
In order to issue an order of protection, the court must be convinced that the respondent engaged in activity that resulted in abuse, neglect or exploitation.
The term abuse is quite broad and includes some of the following.
- Physical Abuse
- Interference with personal liberty
- Intimidation of a dependent
- Willful deprivation
Neglect of a high-risk adult with disabilities includes the following.
- Failure to provide required food, shelter, clothing and personal hygiene
- Failure to provide medical and rehabilitative care for physical and mental needs
- Failure to protect the disabled adult from health and safety hazards
- Unreasonable confinement
- Failure to take steps to protect the disabled adult from abuse
Exploitation of a high-risk adult with disability takes place when the respondent illegally manipulates the disabled person or illegally uses his or her assets for personal benefit. Using undue influence on a disabled adult to acquire their property through breach of fiduciary duty, deception, fraud or extortion are all considered forms of exploitation.Getting Served an Order of Protection
When a petitioner files for an order of protection, the court sends a legal notice to the respondent, giving them an opportunity of being heard. The respondent usually receives the following documents.
- A copy of the petition filed in court for the protection order
- Any emergency orders of protection issued by the court
- Any supporting claims and accusations filed by the petitioner
The respondent must immediately follow any emergency order and cease all contact with the petitioner. Failure to do so can result in criminal charges and fines for the respondent.
The respondent has a couple of options when served with a legal notice of protection. They can choose to go to court or ignore the letter.
If the respondent opts to go to court, they get an opportunity to tell their side of the story. The petitioner gets the first turn to show the court why a protection order is needed. After the accuser has laid out their claims, the respondent will get a chance to present their case.
During the hearing, the judge may cross question the petitioner and the respondent. The judge will also consider any evidence and witness testimony presented in court by both parties.
After the hearing, the judge will decide whether to issue an order of protection or not. The decision can be taken by the court immediately or after some time.Court Hearings and Protection Orders
There are three types of protection orders granted by the courts depending on the case circumstances.
First, a court may grant the petitioner an emergency order of protection without giving the respondent a chance to present their case. This order usually lasts for 14 to 21 days. The court sets a date for hearing to both parties within the time period.
A judge may also grant a petitioner an interim order of protection after the respondent has been served with the notice to appear in court for a hearing.
Finally, a plenary order is more permanent and issued for up to 2 years. The judge would grant this order only after giving both the petitioner and the respondent a reasonable opportunity of being heard. The respondent can choose not to attend the court hearing. The petitioner is required to be present in court to get the protection order.Special Implications of a Protection Order
It should be noted that an order of protection only works in a one-way direction. It only affects the actions of the respondent who is barred from contacting the petitioner. The person who filed for the order can still contact the respondent or visit their home.
However, if the respondent tries to respond to the communication attempts of the petitioner, they can be held in contempt of court.
The order covers all forms of communication attempts. These include the following.
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Talking to someone in person
- Social media posts
- Attempts to contact the person through a third party such as a mutual friend
If you have been served with a legal notice for protection order hearing, or considering the option to file a petition for protection in court, a good legal defense team can significantly improve the chances of getting the decision in your favor.