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Know the Laws: Illinois

UPDATED September 19, 2017

Civil No Contact Orders (for Victims of Sexual Assault)

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This civil order provides protection from an abuser if you are the victim of sexual assault, even if you do not have a relationship with the abuser.

Basic info and definitions

back to topWhat is a civil no contact order?

Similar to a domestic violence order of protection, a civil no contact order is a court order that can protect you and your family or household members from an abuser if you are the victim of non-consensual sexual conduct or non-consensual sexual penetration.  Unlike the domestic violence order of protection, you do not need to have a specific relationship with the abuser to get a civil no contact order.*

* 740 ILCS 22/201

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back to topWhat is the legal definition of non-consensual sexual conduct?

Sexual conduct is when someone:

  • intentionally touches or fondles your sex organs, anus, or breast – either directly or through clothing;
  • intentionally forces you to touch or fondle his/her sex organs, anus, or breast – either directly or through clothing;
  • intentionally touches or fondles any part of the body of a child under 13 years of age; or
  • transfers or transmits semen on any part of your clothed or unclothed body, for the purpose of the his/her sexual gratification or arousal or your sexual gratification or arousal.*
Sexual conduct is “non-consensual” when any of the above acts happen without your voluntary consent/agreement.

* 740 ILCS 22/103

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back to topWhat is the legal definition of non-consensual sexual penetration?

Sexual penetration means any contact, however slight, between the sex organ or anus of one person by an object, or by another person’s sex organ, mouth or anus.  Sexual penetration also includes any invasion into a person’s sex organ or anus by any part of the body of another person, by any animal or by any object.  Sexual penetration includes, but is not limited to, oral sex and anal penetration.*

Sexual penetration is “non-consensual” when it happens without your voluntary consent/agreement.

Note: It is not necessary for there to be evidence of semen in order to prove sexual penetration.*

* 740 ILCS 22/103

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back to topWhat types of civil no contact orders are there? How long do they last?

There are two types of civil no contact orders, which are described below.

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

  • you are the victim of non-consensual sexual conduct or non-consensual sexual penetration; and
  • there is “good cause” to grant you immediate protection without notifying the abuser beforehand because the abuser would likely harm you if s/he were notified ahead of time that you were going to come to court to ask for a civil no contact order.*
An emergency order can last for between 14 and 21 days.*1  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 is also supposed to 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.*2

Plenary no contact order: A plenary no contact order can be issued after the abuser receives notice of the case and both you and the abuser have a chance to appear in court and present your witnesses and evidence.  The judge can issue a plenary no contact order if s/he believes:
  • you are the victim of non-consensual sexual conduct or non-consensual sexual penetration;
  • the abuser was properly served with notice of the case; and
  • the abuser has responded or failed to appear.  Note: If the abuser receives notice of the case but does not appear in court (also known as being “in default”), the judge can issue you an order in the abuser’s absence.*3
A plenary no contact order can last up to 2 years and can be extended more than once.*4  See Can I extend my civil no contact order? for more information.

The judge cannot deny you a civil no contact order based on any of the following:
  • you (the petitioner) are a minor;
  • the abuser (the respondent) is a minor;
  • the fact that you do not have physical injury from the abuse;
  • the abuser had a reason to use force (unless his/her use of force was legally justified);
  • the abuser was voluntarily intoxicated;
  • you acted in self-defense or in the defense of another (as long as your use of force was justified) or you did not act in self-defense or another; or
  • whether or not you left the house to avoid further abuse.*5
* 740 ILCS 22/214(a)
*1 740 ILCS 22/216(a)
*2 740 ILCS 22/214(c)
*3 740 ILCS 22/215
*4 740 ILCS 22/216(b),(c)
*5 740 ILCS 22/213(a),(c)

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back to topWhere can I file for a civil no contact order?

You can file for a civil no contact order in the circuit court in the county where you live, the county where the abuser lives, or the county where the incident(s) occurred.*

* 740 ILCS 22/207; see 740 ILCS 22/218 and Illinois Civil No Contact Order petition

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back to topHow can a civil no contact order help me?

In a civil no contact order, the judge can order that the abuser:

  • stay a certain distance away from you, your residence, school, daycare, or another location;
  • stay away from any property or animal you own, have in your possession or lease and order the abuser not to take, encumber (restrict use), conceal, harm or dispose of your property or animal;
  • not have any contact with you directly, indirectly, or through another person (a “third party.”) Note: It does not matter if the other person (the third party) who contacts you knows about the order or not; and
  • not do any other actions that the judge believes would help protect you.*
If you and the abuser attend the same public or private elementary, middle, or high school, 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; and
  • the expense, difficulty and educational disruption that would be caused by transferring the abuser to another school (since the judge can order that the abuser not attend your school.)  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.**
Note: The judge can also order that the parent(s), guardian(s), or legal custodian(s) of a minor who has a civil no contact order issued against him/her take certain actions or not engage in certain actions to make sure that the abuser obeys the order.***

* 740 ILCS 22/213(b-5)
** 740 ILCS 22/213(b-6)
*** 740 ILCS 22/213(b-7)

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Who is eligible for a civil no contact order

back to topWho can get a civil no contact order?

Under Illinois law, you may be eligible for a civil no contact order if you are the victim of one or more incidents of non-consensual sexual conduct or non-consensual sexual penetration.  A no contact order can also be filed on behalf of a minor child or on behalf of an adult who is a victim of non-consensual sexual conduct or penetration but cannot file on his/her own because of age, disability, health, or inaccessibility.*

Your civil no contact order can also protect your family or household members and any rape crisis center advocate who is assisting you.**

* 740 ILCS 22/201(b)
** 740 ILCS 22/201(a)

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back to topCan a minor file for a civil no contact order? And can I get an order against a minor?

Yes.  You can file for a civil no contact order if you are a minor or a parent/guardian can file on behalf of a minor.  Also, if the person who abused you is a minor, you can file for an order against a minor.*

* 740 ILCS 22/213(a)

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Getting the order

back to topWhat are the steps involved with getting a civil no contact order?

The steps to get a civil no contact order are similar to the steps to get an order of protection, but you may fill out different paperwork.  If you have questions, you can call the clerk of court or talk to a lawyer.  You can find the contact information for local courthouses on the IL Courthouse Locations page and for lawyers on the IL Finding a Lawyer page.

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back to topWill the abuser be notified when I file for an order?

Yes.  Typically, the abuser would not be notified before you get an emergency order, but the abuser must be served with your petition and the order before your hearing for the plenary no contact order.  If you get an emergency order, the clerk will immediately (or by the following business day) enter the order on the record and file it according to court procedures.  The clerk will also provide a stamped copy of the order to you and to the abuser (if the abuser was present at the emergency hearing).*

You or the clerk may also file the order with law enforcement so that an officer can serve the abuser with a copy of the order.  If you are unsure whether you should bring the order to law enforcement or whether the clerk will, you can ask the clerk.  A law enforcement officer or process server will attempt to serve the order and file proof of service (unless the respondent was present at the hearing for the emergency order and was served with a copy there).**  At your request, the clerk can also send written notice of the order and a copy of the order to your school.***

* 740 ILCS 22/218(a)
** 740 ILCS 22/218(b),(c)
*** 740 ILCS 22/218(f)

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back to topDo I have to provide my address to file for an order?

No.  If providing your address would put you or your family members at risk of further abuse, you do not have to reveal your address in your petition.  However, you must provide an address where you can receive mail so that you can be served with any court paperwork.*

* 740 ILCS 22/203(b)

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back to topDo I need a lawyer to help me?

No.  You do not need a lawyer to file for a civil no contact order however it is often best to have a lawyer represent you who is knowledgeable about sexual assault to make sure that your rights are protected.  If you cannot find a lawyer, the judge may appoint a lawyer to represent you if the abuser is represented by a lawyer.*  To find a legal services organization near you, go to our IL Finding a Lawyer page.

* 740 ILCS 22/204.3

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back to topWill I have to face the abuser in court?

Possibly.  The abuser must have the opportunity to appear in court and present his/her evidence and testimony before you can receive a plenary order (but if the abuser decides not to show up, you can still get a plenary order).  However, if the judge believes that testifying in the courtroom (in front of the abuser and others) may cause you serious emotional distress, the judge can question you in the judge’s chambers (office).  Your lawyer and the abuser’s lawyer will be present for the judge’s questioning unless all parties agree that the lawyers do not need to be present.*

* 740 ILCS 22/215.5

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After the hearing

back to topCan a civil no contact order be changed (modified)?

You can file a motion to request that the judge modify (change) an emergency or plenary civil no contact order.*  However, once 30 days have passed since the judge issued you a plenary no contact order, the judge can only change the order if there has been a change in the law or the facts of your case, which causes the judge to believe that there should be a change of the terms of your order.**

The only time that the abuser can file to change an order is once the abuser is served with your emergency ex parte no contact order.  The abuser can file a petition to request that the judge reopen the case and reconsider the petition based on the facts that:

  • the abuser did not receive prior notice of the initial hearing where the emergency ex parte order was entered; and
  • the abuser had a valid defense that would have prevented the judge from issuing the order or any of the relief issued in the order.***
If the abuser files this type of request, s/he only has to provide you with two days’ notice of the court hearing where the request will be decided by the judge.***

* 740 ILCS 22/218.5(a)
** 740 ILCS 22/218.5(b)
*** 740 ILCS 22/218.5(c)

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back to topCan I extend my civil no contact order?

Yes.  An emergency or plenary civil no contact order can be extended one or more times if there is “good cause” to do so.  However, if you are not asking the judge to make any changes to the extended order, and the abuser doesn’t oppose your request for an extension, the judge can extend the order just based on your statement that there has been no change in circumstances since entry of the order and based on whatever reason you give for requesting the extension.*

* 740 ILCS 22/216(c),(d-5)

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back to topWhat 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 in "civil contempt" 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.*  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.*1  The respondent must have received notice of the existing order, by service, appearance in court, or another method that shows s/he had knowledge of the order.*2  The first violation can be a Class A misdemeanor and a second or subsequent violation can be a Class 4 felony.*3 

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.*4

* 740 ILCS 22/220(b),(d)
*1 740 ILCS 22/220(c)
*2 740 ILCS 22/220(e)
*3 740 ILCS 22/219
*4 740 ILCS 22/220(h)(1)

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