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Legal Information: Illinois

Restraining Orders

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Laws current as of
January 23, 2024

What is the legal definition of stalking in Illinois?

Stalking is a “course of conduct,” which is two or more acts, directed at a person, workplace, school, or place of worship, and the abuser knows, or should know, that these actions would cause a reasonable person to:

  • fear for his/her safety;
  • fear for the safety of another person;
  • fear for the safety of a workplace, school, or place of worship; or
  • suffer emotional distress.1

The “course of conduct” could include, but is not limited to, behavior where the abuser directly, indirectly, or through third parties, does any of the following:

  • follows, monitors, observes, keeps watch over, or threatens you, a workplace, school, or place of worship;
  • engages in other “contact” with you that is started or continued without your consent, or s/he ignores a request that you make for the contact to stop; or
  • interferes with or damages your property or pet.1

Examples of “contact” include, but are not limited to: being in your physical presence; appearing within your sight; coming towards you or contacting you in a public place or on private property; appearing at your workplace or home; entering onto or remaining on property that you own or lease or are currently in; placing an object on or delivering an object to property owned, leased, or occupied by you; and appearing at the prohibited workplace, school, or place of worship.1

1 740 ILCS 21/10

What types of stalking no contact orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of stalking no contact orders: emergency orders and plenary orders.

Emergency stalking no contact orders: An emergency stalking no contact order can be issued if, after reading your petition and possibly questioning you, the judge believes:

  • you are the victim of stalking; and
  • there is “good cause” to grant you immediate protection without notifying the abuser before the hearing (also known as an ex parte hearing) because the abuser would likely harm you if s/he were notified ahead of time.1

An emergency order will generally last for between 14 and 21 days.2

Note: If you need an emergency order when the court is closed, you can request an emergency order from any available circuit judge or associate judge. There may be one judge in each county who is available to issue an emergency order by phone or fax at any time when the courts are closed.3

Plenary stalking no contact orders: A plenary stalking no contact order can be issued after the abuser receives notice of the court case and both you and the abuser have a chance to appear in court.4 A plenary stalking no contact order can last for two years (or any fixed period of time up to two years).5

1 740 ILCS 21/95(a)
2 740 ILCS 21/105(a)
3 740 ILCS 21/95(c)
4 740 ILCS 21/100
5 740 ILCS 21/105(b)

What protections can I get in a stalking no contact order?

In a stalking no contact order, the judge can order that the abuser not:

  • stalk (or threaten to stalk) you;
  • contact you or a protected third party named in your order;
  • come within a specified distance of you, your home, school, daycare, work, or another place to which you often go;
  • come within a certain distance of the abuser’s own residence, school, or work; however, a judge can only keep the abuser away from these places if the abuser has “actual notice” of the court case and is given the chance to appear in court; and
  • buy or possess firearms or a Firearm Owners Identification Card.1

The judge can also order any other provision that the judge believes would help protect you or another protected party.1

If you and the abuser attend the same public or private elementary, middle, or high school, the judge can order the abuser to not attend that school and that s/he accept a change of placement or program as determined by the school administration. Another option is that the judge can allow the abuser to continue to attend the same school but can place restrictions on the abuser’s movements within the school. When deciding whether or not to do either of these options, the judge must consider the following additional factors:

  • how serious the abuser’s behavior is;
  • any continuing physical danger or emotional distress to you;
  • your and the abuser’s educational rights under federal and state law;
  • the availability of a transfer of the abuser to another school; and
  • the expense, difficulty and educational disruption that would be caused by transferring the abuser to another school – evidence of this would be presented by the abuser.2

Note: The abuser will have an opportunity to try to prove that transferring or changing schools or programs is not an available option for him/her. If the abuser is ordered to change schools or transfer programs, the abuser’s parent(s), guardian(s), or legal custodian(s) are responsible for his/her transportation and other costs of changing schools.2

1 740 ILCS 21/80(b)
2 740 ILCS 21/80(b-5)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.