A new Illinois anti-stalking law, the Stalking No Contact Order Act, took effect on January 1, 2010. Previously there was a gap in Illinois law in the protection of stalking victims. To receive many types of protection, victims either had to be in a domestic relationship with the perpetrator or be a victim of the perpetrators sexual assault; orders protecting people in those situations were made possible by the Illinois Domestic Violence Act and sexual assault civil no contact order laws, respectively.
However, the new law creates a “No Contact Order” to protect those not covered under those laws. It can be useful in a domestic relations context if an ex-partner is using third-parties (such as a friend or relative) to stalk a victim.
Under the new law, those who did not have a previous relationship with the offender and those who were not a victim of sexual assault can seek a stalking no contact order (SNCO).
Under a SNCO, the court can prohibit the respondent from following:
- Committing or threatening stalking; order the respondent to have no contact with the victim;
- Coming within a specific distance of the victim’s home, school, workplace or other places frequented by the victim;
- Possessing firearms or a FOID (Firearms Owner Identification) card.
Further, the court can take many other actions by issuing injunction releif that the court determines is necessary to protect the petitioner or a third party named by the court.
While it is possible to obtain a SNCO without an attorney, those who choose to use an attorney to secure the order will be glad to know that the new law allows the court to award attorney fees to the victim if the order is granted. However, it is worth noting the following: 1) the court is not obligated to award attorney fees, and 2) if the court decides not to grant the SNCO, the person seeking the order will not be awarded attorney fees.
The definition of stalking:
The new SNCO definition of stalking mirrors the updated criminal stalking law, which criminalizes any course of conduct that causes a reasonable person to fear for his or her safety or suffer emotional distress. Under this new law, the reasonable person is defined as a person in the victim’s situation, which requires courts to consider the victim’s knowledge of the offender and the context of the stalker’s behaviors.