Were you recently served with documents indicating someone has filed for a Stalking No Contact Order or an Order of Protection against you? If so, you may be unsure how to respond. While simply ignoring the summons may seem like the easiest option, doing so can result in a variety of unwanted consequences. You have the absolute right to defend yourself against the accusations made by the petitioner. You must exercise that right, however, for it to help you. To ensure that you understand what is at stake if you are the respondent, here’s how to fight a Stalking No Contact Order or an Order of Protection.
What Is an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection is a court order that can order the respondent to refrain from doing certain things such as communicating with the petitioner or coming near the petitioner. In Illinois, the Illinois Domestic Violence Act governs the issuance of an Order of Protection. To qualify for an order, a petitioner must be able to show that he or she is a “family or household member” of the respondent and that the respondent has abused or threatened the petitioner. Both the term “family or household member” and the term “abused” are construed very liberally.
What Is a Stalking No Contact Order?
A Stalking No Contact Order is very similar to an Order of Protection; however, there is one crucial difference. You are not required to be a “family or household member” of the respondent. Stalking is also defined fairly broadly as anything that makes an alleged victim fear for their safety or that causes distress. The behavior must have occurred more than once to be considered stalking.
Obtaining a Stalking No Contact Order or an Order of Protection
Although a judge must approve a petition for either a Stalking No Contact Order or an Order of Protection, it is relatively easy for a petitioner to obtain an Emergency Order. A petitioner need only fill out the required emergency petition, alleging that the respondent abused him or her or engaged in stalking behavior. The petition should then be submitted to a judge. The judge will review the petition and either approve or deny the request. If approved, an Emergency Order is issued.
An Emergency Order is not a permanent order. If you are the respondent, however, and you have been served with the order, you must abide by the terms, or you risk criminal charges being filed against you for violation. The summons you receive with the order will provide you with the date and time of the hearing at which time you have the right to present your side of the story.
Why Is It Important to Fight a Stalking No Contact Order or an Order of Protection?
Respondents often make the mistake of not showing up to the hearing, particularly if they have ended the relationship with the petitioner. There are several reasons why you don’t want to make this mistake, including:
- A Stalking No Contact Order/Order of Protection, if it is granted, may later serve as the basis for an actual criminal charge for violation of that order.
- You could be ordered to vacate your own home.
- You could be prevented from coming near or contacting your own children.
- You could be prevented from owning or purchasing a firearm.
- If you are not a United States citizen, you could be prevented from ever becoming one.
- You could be denied housing or disqualified from future employment opportunities.
The good news is that if you are facing stalking charges or have been served with an emergency Order of Protection, you have an opportunity to prevent a more permanent (called plenary) order from being issued. You must act quickly to defend yourself, however, by consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney.
Contact a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
If you were recently served with an emergency Order of Protection or Stalking No Contact Order, contact the experienced Chicago criminal defense attorneys at Sexner and Associates LLC today by calling (312) 644-0444 or by filling out our online contact form.
This blog is available for informational purposes only and is not considered legal advice on any subject matter. The blog should not be used as a substitute for legal advice from a licensed professional attorney, and readers are urged to consult their own legal counsel on specific legal questions.