Illinois courts hold civil stalking no contact proceedings for persons who cannot obtain relief under the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986. The individual seeking the “no contact order” is known as the Petitioner and the individual who the order is sought against is known as the Respondent. The Petitioner is not required to have an attorney, the filing fees are waived, and an Advocate my assist the Petitioner in filling out the paperwork. Further, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the Petitioner. In contrast, if the Respondent chooses to enter an appearance in Cook County a “appearance fee” is required, unless otherwise waived.
A Stalking No Contact Order is relatively straightforward, but it is important to know the elements and burden of proof in order properly defend against a petition. Under the Stalking No Contact Order Act (Act), a victim of stalking may seek a civil remedy requiring the stalker to stay away from him or her. 740 ILCS 21/5 (West 2012). Check out the Act here.
“Stalking” means engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person, and [the stalker] knows or should know that this course of conduct would cause a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or suffer emotional distress. 740 ILCS 21/10 (West 2012). Stalking behavior includes following a person, conducting surveillance of the person, appearing at the person’s home, work or school, making unwanted phone calls, sending unwanted emails or text messages, leaving objects for the person, vandalizing the person’s property, or injuring a pet.
A “course of conduct” means two or more acts “including but not limited to acts in which a respondent directly, indirectly, or through third parties, by any action, method, device, or means follows, monitors, observes, surveils, threatens, or communicates to or about, a person” and may include contact by electronic communications. 740 ILCS 21/10 (West 2012).
“Contact” includes any contact with the victim, that is initiated or continued without the victim’s consent, or that is in disregard of the victim’s expressed desire that the contact be avoided or discontinued, including being in the victim’s physical presence or sight, approaching or confronting the victim, or appearing at the victim’s workplace or residence. 740 ILCS 21/10 (West 2012).
A Petitioner is required to prove stalking by a preponderance of the evidence. 740 ILCS 21/30 (West 2012); McNally v. Bredemann, 2015 IL App (1st) 134048, ¶ 10.
A complainant does not need to contact her/his stalker to inform him or her that the contact is unwanted. McNally, 2015 IL App (1st) 134048, ¶ 14. The stalker’s contact must be nonconsensual. McNally, 2015 IL App (1st) 134048, ¶ 14.
The focus is on whether the stalker’s behavior would cause a reasonable person to be fearful for her safety or to suffer emotional distress. McNally, 2015 IL App (1st) 134048, ¶ 14, 391 Ill.Dec. 287.
If the order is granted and the Respondent violates the order he or she is subject to criminal penalties. The first violation is a Class A Misdemeanor and subsequent violation is a Class 4 Felony.