Illinois Domestic Violence Act

The Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA) recognizes domestic violence as a serious crime. It creates a legal remedy for domestic violence victims called an Order of Protection, and it requires that law enforcement officers provide specific types of assistance to victims.

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a written court order, signed by a judge, which requires an abusive household or family member to do or not to do certain things. The judge can order any or all of the following remedies:

  1. Forbid any further abuse, neglect, or exploitation.
  2. Order the abuser not to enter the shared home for a period of time. This is often called a vacate order or an exclusive possession order.
  3. Order the abuser to stay away from the person or persons protected by the order; or prohibit the abuser from entering or remaining in a specified place.
  4. Require or recommend counseling for the abuser.
  5. Award physical care and possession of a minor child.
  6. Award temporary legal custody.
  7. Determine visitation.
  8. Prohibit the abuser from removing the child from the state or concealing the child within the state.
  9. Order the abuser to appear in court alone, or with the child.
  10. Grant possession of personal property to the victim.
  11. Forbid the abuser from taking, transferring or destroying the victim’s property.
  12. Order the abuser to pay temporary support to the victim and/or children.
  13. Order the abuser to pay the victim for losses suffered as a direct result of the abuse (medical and dental expenses, repair/replacement of damaged property, attorney’s fees, court costs, etc.).
  14. Prohibit the abuser from entering or remaining in the residence or household while the abuser is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  15. Prohibit the abuser access to school records if the abuser is prohibited contact with a minor child.
  16. Order the abuser to reimburse a shelter for providing temporary shelter and counseling to petitioner.
  17. Order injunctive relief as necessary or appropriate to prevent further abuse.

If the abuser violates 1, 2, 3 or 14 listed above, he has committed the crime of violation of an Order of Protection, a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500. The abuser can be immediately arrested if he repeats the abuse or if he enters the home after he has been ordered not to do so.

If the abuser violates remedies 6, 8, or 9 listed above he has committed, a Class 4 Felony which is punishable by 1-3 years imprisonment or a fine of up to $25,000.

If the abuser violates any of the other remedies, he can be found in contempt of court, which can also result in a fine or imprisonment.

Who can get an Order of Protection?

A petition for an Order of Protection may be filed by a person who has been abused by a family or household member; by any person on behalf of a minor child, or by an adult with disabilities abused by a family or household member. Spouses, former spouses, parents, children, step-children or other persons related by blood or by present or prior marriage, persons who share or formerly shared a common dwelling, persons who have or allegedly have a child in common, persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child, persons who have or have had a dating or engagement relationship, and persons with disabilities and their personal assistants, can all get an Order of Protection.

In addition, any person may file an Order of Protection on behalf of a high-risk adult with disabilities who has been abused, neglected, or exploited by a family or household member.

What is Abuse?

Abuse means physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty, or willful deprivation.

What is Neglect?

Neglect means omitting or failing to do what a reasonable person would do under the circumstances. It includes failure to provide food, shelter, clothing and personal hygiene to a dependant person who needs such assistance; failure to take care of the needs of the dependant person; and the failure to protect the dependant person from health and safety hazards. However, the law does not create a duty to provide caretaker services; therefore, if a person has never held himself or herself out as a caretaker, this does not apply.

What is Exploitation?

Exploitation means improperly using the financial or other resources of one person for the profit or benefit of another. It includes taking another’s assets or resources by undue influence, deception or fraud.

How Can You Get an Order of Protection?

Any person who is abused by a household or family member can ask the court for an Order of Protection, or anyone can ask one for a child, an elderly person, or someone who is unable to ask for one themselves because of a disability. The victim or person requesting the Order should have enough evidence of abuse to convince the judge it has taken place.

Evidence includes such things as:

  • The victim’s statements as to the abuse inflicted
  • Hospital or doctor’s reports of injuries
  • Dated photographs of injuries
  • Police reports
  • Statements from other family members, neighbors, or others who saw or heard the abuse
  • Weapons used
  • Torn or bloody clothing, or broken household items
  • Pictures of the house or room in disarray

The more evidence you have the more likely it is the judge will believe you and grant you the legal remedies you need.

Where Can You Get an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection can be obtained in two ways:

  1. If a criminal case is filed against the abuser by the State’s Attorney’s Office, the State’s Attorney’s Office will assist you in completing the necessary paperwork for an Order of Protection. You will need to come to the Vermilion County State’s Attorney’s Office and an advocate will help you prepare the paperwork at no charge.
  2. If a criminal case has not been filed you may:
    1. Go to the Circuit Clerk and ask for a Civil Order of Protection Packet.
      You represent yourself (pro se) and the Clerk is not able to give legal advice.
    2. You can hire a private attorney to represent you for the Order of Protection.
    3. You may choose to seek assistance with the legal advocates at Crosspoint Domestic Violence & Transitional Shelter or Survivor Resource Center.

How Long Does an Order of Protection Last?

There are three kinds of Orders of Protection:

  1. Emergency:
    An Emergency Order may be obtained just on your testimony and court appearance; that is, the abuser is not there to tell his side of the story. Before issuing an emergency Order of Protection, the judge must find that there is good cause to grant it without first notifying the abuser, and the judge must apply different standards before granting the individual remedies (for example, that you would likely be harmed if the abuser knew you were seeking legal protection). Emergency Orders of Protection can last for not less than 14 nor more than 21 days and be extended one or more times for an additional 14-21 day period.
  2. Interim:
    An Interim Order of Protection can be obtained in cases where the abuser has been notified of the court hearing but has not necessarily been personally served with all the legal papers. Interim Orders of Protection are good for up to 30 days, and can be extended one or more times.
  3. Plenary:
    A plenary, or full Order of Protection, is available when all the legal requirements of notice, service, etc. for the abuser have been satisfied. All the remedies can be requested. A plenary Order of Protection can last for up to two years from the date the judge signs it, and can be extended by the judge for up to two years longer.

Please note that it is always up to the judge how long any particular Order will last. For example, if the abuser is convicted of a crime and sentenced to six months probation, the judge might issue a plenary order to last for six months only.