Are Orders of Protection Effective?

A Jacksonville, Illinois man was shot and killed recently, allegedly by the man’s ex-father-in-law. Around the time of the man’s divorce, he sought and obtained an order of protection against his ex-wife, claiming that he feared for his life after his ex-wife allegedly threatened him with a handgun. Before the man was killed, court records appeared to show the man’s ex-wife allegedly violating the order of protection several times. Unfortunately, this man’s tragic experience is not unique. Although orders of protection are meant to protect victims of abuse and stalking from further harm, oftentimes violations of these orders go unreported by the victim or courts do not take sufficiently aggressive measures to deter future abuse. This leaves one to ponder: what “teeth” do orders of protection have in Illinois?

What Protections Does an Order of Protection Offer Me?

If you are the victim of domestic abuse or fear that a domestic partner will cause you harm, you can obtain an emergency order of protection from the court that will last up to 21 days. To obtain an emergency order of protection, you simply need to present enough evidence to a judge to convince him or her that there is an emergency situation and that there is a need for such an order. The alleged abuser does not need to be present.

An order of protection may be extended for up to two years. This is called a plenary order. Before the court will issue a plenary order of protection, the court will allow for the alleged abuser to be present in court and present evidence as to why such an order may not be appropriate. You, too, will have an opportunity to present evidence and testimony as to why a plenary order of protection should be entered.

Any order of protection can contain orders that:

  • The abuser immediately vacate any shared residence he or she may have with you;
  • The abuser refrain from contacting you by any means, either directly or through a third party;
  • The abuser refrain from coming on or around your residence and/or workplace; and/or
  • The abuser not approach you in a public setting.

How Is an Order of Protection Enforced?

An order of protection can be enforced either through a separate criminal proceeding or through the contempt powers of the court. A victim whose abuser has violated an order of protection can file a report with his or her local law enforcement agency, which will then in turn prepare a case to present to the local prosecutor. If an abuser is convicted of violating an order of protection, he or she can be fined and/or jailed. Penalties for violating an order of protection increase if the abuser has been previously convicted of violating orders of protection.

Through its contempt powers, the court is also able to punish parties who violate orders of protection. A hearing would need to be held at which the parties can present evidence that establishes a violation of the orders. Contempt is also punishable by fines and/or jail.

If you need assistance in seeking an order of protection or enforcing that order after your abuser has violated its terms and conditions, contact a team of skilled DuPage County family law attorneys at Abear Law Office.



Shooting victim had feared for his safety