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Legal Information: Illinois

Restraining Orders

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January 23, 2024

What can I do if the abuser violates the order?

Violating a civil no contact order can be against the law. There are two ways to get help if the abuser violates the order.

Through the Civil Court System (Civil)
You may file for civil contempt for a violation of the order. The abuser may be violating a civil no contact order if:

  • s/he does anything that your civil no contact order prohibits him/her from doing or if s/he does not do something that is required in the order; and
  • s/he did that action or failed to do that action after being served with the no contact order (or having some other way of having knowledge of what the order says).1

If the abuser tells someone else (a third party) to violate the order, the abuser may be guilty of violating the order.2

If the abuser did not have notice of the of the case and an opportunity to appear in court for the hearing, then s/he may be able to use that in court as an excuse (defense) for why s/he violated the order.3

To file for civil contempt, go to the clerk’s office and ask for the forms to file for civil contempt.

Through the Police or Sheriff (Criminal)
If the abuser violates the civil no contact order, you can call 911 immediately, and the respondent can be arrested.4 However, the respondent must have received notice of the existing order by any of the following methods:

  • service of process;
  • appearance in court; or
  • another method that shows s/he had knowledge of the order.5

The penalties for violating a civil no contact order can include incarceration, payment of restitution, a fine, payment of attorneys’ fees and costs, or community service.6 The first violation of a civil no contact order can be a Class A misdemeanor. A second or subsequent violation can be a Class 4 felony.7 The penalty for a Class A misdemeanor is jail time for up to one year and a fine of up to $2,500.8 The penalty for a Class 4 felony is jail time for between one and three years and a fine to be decided by the judge.9

For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

1 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(a)
2 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(d)
3 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(a-5)
4 740 ILCS 22/220(c)
5 740 ILCS 22/220(e)
6 740 ILCS 22/220(h)(1)
7 720 ILCS 5/12-3.8(e)
8 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-55
9 730 ILCS 5/5-4.5-45