If you are in an abusive situation, it can seem like you don’t have many options – but this isn’t true. Illinois law provides for Orders of Protection in situations where a person is facing abuse. Filing for this order can be emotionally challenging for victims of abuse, however, especially when they don’t want their situation to become part of the public record.
In Illinois, Orders of Protection are not easily accessed as part of the public record – and as such, the people filing for them do not need to worry about details of their life being readily, publicly accessible.
If you believe that you and/or your child(ren) are in immediate danger from a family or household member, call 911 right away and get out of the situation. Once the immediate danger has passed, if you live in McHenry, Lake, or Kane County, PLEASE call our office immediately, even if it is after hours. A team member will answer, take your information, and put you in touch with an attorney as quickly as possible.
How Does an Order of Protection Work?
In order to file for an Order of Protection, you must either be the person being abused OR be filing on behalf of a family member who is unable to file for themselves due to age or disability. In addition, the court you file at must have jurisdiction over the case.
You can submit a petition yourself, but it is recommended that you seek the help of an attorney, as it is a detailed process. If you have a pending divorce case, the Order of Protection should be submitted to the divorce Judge and your divorce attorney should be involved. You will go before a judge, explain the details of your situation, and if you are eligible (i.e., if the requirements above are met and the judge finds that abuse is likely happening), an Emergency Order of Protection will be granted. This order will last for 14 to 21 days.
Because of the potential risk of harm, the respondent (the person the order is being filed against) does not need to be present for hearing on your request for an Emergency Order of Protection.
In order to obtain a more permanent order, both parties will present their case to the judge in a plenary hearing, which you can read more about here.
Who Can Gain Access to the Records?
An Order of Protection is a civil case, not a criminal matter; therefore, it will not go on the respondent’s criminal record.
Although the Order of Protection will not become part of the public record, law enforcement officers and the court clerk in your county can check to find out that it exists. The police will have access so that they can take protective measures if the order is violated. Your abuser will not be able to see the case on the County website until after they have been served by the police.
Will a Simple Background Check Reveal an Order of Protection?
A respondent may have a similar question: if they apply for a job, will the background check reveal that an Order of Protection was filed against them?
The answer is, possibly. They may now show up in simple background checks, and they can be found through the circuit court website.
If an Order of Protection is violated, however, the occurrence will go on the respondent’s criminal record as a felony, which will show on a background check. The state of Illinois is vigilant about protecting the health and safety of its citizens.
If you or a family member are in danger and in need of an Order of Protection, please call the police and get to safety. Once you are safe, if you are in McHenry, Lake, or Kane Counties, please call our office – our team is experienced, compassionate, and ready to help.
DISCLAIMER: Any information contained herein is solely for informational purposes and is only applicable in the state of Illinois. While it is important that you educate yourself, nothing herein should be construed as legal advice or create an attorney-client relationship. For specific questions, we urge you to contact a local attorney for advice pertaining to your specific legal needs.