Determine whether you need a criminal or civil order
First, you have to determine whether you need a criminal or a civil order of protection. This will tell you where you need to go to get the order - criminal court or civil court. If your situation involves the police, you will go to criminal court to get a criminal order of protection. For example, if the person you need protection from has been arrested or you have filed a police report, you'll go to criminal court. If you plan to press charges but haven't done so yet, you can still go to criminal court. If the police have not been involved and charges aren't going to be filed in the near future, go to civil court for a civil order of protection. If you have a pending child custody case, you would file in connection with that case at the same location. The same would be true if you were seeking a protective order against your spouse during a divorce.
Find the right court location
The main criminal courthouse in Chicago is located at 555 W. Harrison Street. Go here if you live in Chicago. For civil orders in Chicago, go to the Domestic Violence Court at the same location (555 W. Harrison Street). There are also suburban Cook County locations. The general rule is that you go to the location closest to where you live. Again, if you are seeking a protective order in connection with an ongoing case, file in that location (Domestic Relations Division, Child Support, etc ).
Understand the limits
You can only get protective orders against certain individuals. They are limited to family members, people who are engaged or dating, people who live together and people who have children together. There are three different levels of protective orders, with different time limits. An emergency order lasts from 14 to 21 days. An interim order lasts for 30 days, and a full order lasts for up to two years. These are the general guidelines. It's ultimately up to the judge to decide.
Additional resources provided by the author
If you need a protective order, contact the court clerk at the correct location. Some courthouses may have legal assistance available. You can always give us a call. We’ll point you in the right direction and put you in contact with an experienced attorney if you need one. Your call is completely confidential. 1-800-517-1614
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