Recently in the State Journal Register there has been a series of news articles about individuals in relationships hurting each other, damaging each other's property and stabbing or shooting at the other person. It is amazing when you look at the fact that these are individuals who once loved each other. They may have children in common or be married (in or out of a divorce) or lived together -- or even worse, be child/parent or parent/child.
Domestic violence is a terrible thing and our legislature passed the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. Sojourn shelter in Springfield receives federal funds to help fight domestic violence -- by providing shelter to victims of domestic violence, counseling services and assistance in getting an "Order of Protection".
What is an Order of Protection
An individual must first file a petition for an Emergency Order of Protection at the Circuit Clerk of the county where they reside. In Sangamon county a family law judge hears Emergency Orders of Protections Monday through Friday at 11am in Courtroom 6B.
An Order of Protection must:
1) Be against someone that has a relationship that is either:
c) Child in common
d) Dating (or had a dating relationship)
e) Living together
2) The petition must contain allegations of violence, threats or harassment. A judge decides whether or not the allegations are sufficient to warrant issuance of an Emergency Order of Protection. This is a Plenary Order of Protection hearing.
What happens next?
The Emergency Order of Protection must be served on the other party by the Sangamon County Sheriffs office. There is a date 7-21 days from the Emergency Order of Protection for a hearing on the Order of Protection. The judge will decide if there is enough evidence of violence, harassment or threats to issue and Order of Protection. The hearing will be a Friday morning at 9am in Sangamon County.
In Sangamon County one Family Law Judge is the "Lead OP" and he/she sits in courtroom 6B, there the judge may hear the case or assign it out to one of the other Family Law Judges who hears cases at that same Friday morning time (9 AM).
What is the OP Hearing?
The person who is alleged to have committed the violence/threats has the opportunity to either agree or contest the OP. The person who brought the OP can decide to drop the OP or proceed to a hearing.
If the Order of Protection is Granted, What does that Mean?
The Emergency Order of Protection is replaced by a "Plenary Order of Protection" which can last up to two years. If the alleged abuser violates the order then it is a crime.
What are the remedies in an Order of Protection?
An Order of Protection, emergency or plenary, can order a person to stay away from the other person, give temporary custody of children to one party, suspend or restrict visitation by one or both parents and order the return of property. If it is a Plenary Order of Protection the court can order the individual to surrender firearms that they possess and undergo domestic violence counseling or anger management courses. A Temporary Order of Protection cannot order an individual to surrender firearms or undergo counseling.
Will someone go to jail for violating an Order of Protection?
Yes. The courts and the police are aware that domestic violence cases are some of the riskiest of situations. People are killed by ex-spouses, lovers and family members each year.
Do some people file false allegations of violence to get Orders of Protection?
Sadly, yes. Many times one part of a couple will bring an OP against the other "to gain an advantage in a divorce". Many people use OP's as a vindictive way to hurt the other person who "left" them. Some people do not have the quality of character to tell the one they once loved, "It's over". Some people refuse to hear or believe a relationship is over.
In Sangamon County the Family Law Judges have adopted a policy that if the parties are involved in a diovrce and they have legal counsel the court will order the counsel and the parties to be present at the heariing -- even if it means calling the attorneys and requiring them to appear. The Sangamon County Familhy Law Judges do take allegations and threats of violence seriously.
If I am falsely accused of Domestic Violence what should I do?
Hire an attorney and fight the allegations. A large number of Orders of Protection are dismissed each week. Then you should realize that it was a dysfunctional relationship -- probably they more than you. If the case is dismissed or the OP is not granted then stay away from that person. Something is probably not right with their emotional state of mind and continuing to contact them is only asking for trouble. A friend of mine once said, "There is a reason why zoos have a sign, 'Do Not Pet the Animals'". An amazing number of people say, "They are so good to me when they aren't drinking", "They are different people when they take their meds" or "The step kids would be so nice to me if they didn't have ADHD". If they have problems, you can't fix them and don't even think about trying to fix them.
Can you fight an accusation of Domestic Violence before the Plenary OP hearing date?
Once a Temporary Order of Protection has been granted (and those usually occur without notice to the other party), the other side who has been accused in the Order of Protection can request a hearing within 48 hours to challenge the Order of Protection. Then a hearing will occur and the accuser will be required to present their evidence just as they are required to do so at a Plenary Order of Protection hearing.
If you are a victim of Domestic Violence
Contact either a family law attorney or the Sojourn Shelter at (217) 726-5200. Real domestic violence should never be tolerated. Its not just men who commit violence against women, women commit violence against men and children commit violence against parents and step parents.
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