The Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 was enacted to address the serious problem of Domestic Violence. This act recognizes that victims of domestic violence have suffered from a lack of both civil and criminal resources. The Domestic Violence Act offers new civil and criminal remedies to victims of domestic battery.
What is the purpose of the Domestic Violence Act?
- The Domestic Violence Act recognizes domestic violence as a serious crime that creates disharmony within the family and adversely affects the children who are exposed to it.
- The Domestic Violence Act recognizes the shortcomings of the legal system that has failed to address violence within the family and has ineffectively dealt with the abuser.
- The Domestic Violence Act promotes the enforcement of civil court orders (such as Orders of Protections) that prohibit abuse and restrict the abuser's accessibility to the victim's children and residence.
- The Domestic Violence Act clarifies and expands the role of law enforcement officers in crimes of domestic battery. This includes better victim assistance, further education concerning domestic abuse, and new policies to insure the safety of the victim and any minor children.
How has the DuPage County State's Attorney's Office addressed the problem of domestic violence?
The State's Attorney's Office has organized many specialized units to prosecute perpetrators of domestic violence. The Domestic Violence/Child Abuse Unit, Seniors Services Unit, Victim Services Unit, and the Children's Advocacy Center all work hand in hand to put and end to domestic violence. Furthermore, the DuPage County State's Attorneys Office has implemented Police Training Programs to keep law enforcement up to date on current changes in the laws governing domestic violence.
What constitutes abuse under the Domestic Violence Act?
The Domestic Violence Act expands its scope to include five categories of behaviors that Illinois State law recognizes as abuse:
- Physical abuse (including sexual abuse) is defined as knowing or reckless use of physical force, confinement or restraint. This definition does not include reasonable direction of a child by a parent or person acting as a guardian.
- Harassment is defined as knowing conduct not necessary to accomplish a reasonable purpose and under the circumstances would cause distress to a reasonable person.
- Intimidation of a dependent is defined as subjecting a person who is dependent on another because of age, health, or disability to participate in or witness the use of physical force, confinement, or restraint against another.
- Interference with personal liberty is defined as threatening or using physical abuse, harassment, or intimidation to compel another to engage in behavior that he or she has the right to refuse refrain from.
- Willful deprivation is defined as willfully depriving a person who because of age, health, or disability requires medication, medical care, food, shelter, or physical assistance and thereby exposing them to physical or emotional harm.
Who is protected by the Domestic Violence Act?
The Domestic Violence Act offers protection to victims abused by a family or household member. The Domestic Violence Act recognizes relationship categories (past or present) that constitute a family or household relationship:
- former spouse
- person related by blood or marriage
- sharing or formally sharing a common dwelling
- persons who have a child in common
- sharing a blood relationship through a child
- dating or engagement relationship
- personal assistant to a disabled person.
The Domestic Violence Act prohibits any harassment or abuse of any person residing or employed at a private home or shelter that is housing the abused family or household member.
How does the Domestic Violence Act offer protection?
The Domestic Violence Act offers Orders of Protection to protect victims of abuse. An order of protection is a civil court order that provides protection for victims of domestic abuse. A person can obtain an order of protection on an emergency basis when there is a likelihood of harm or injury by the abuser. Typically, the emergency order of protection is sought after a recent incident of domestic violence. This incident becomes the basis of the petition for the emergency order of protection. Since an emergency order of protection is sought relatively soon after an incident of violence, generally within 72 hours, a judge will hear the petitioner without the presence of the respondent (abuser). If the judge makes the finding that irreparable harm or injury is likely to occur, then the judge may enter an emergency order of protection for a maximum of 21 days.
A valid Order of Protection is enforceable by the police. A violation of an order of protection can constitute a criminal misdemeanor offense. The decision to make an arrest based on an alleged violation of an order of protection lies with the police department. If the respondent violates a valid Order of Protection, the local police should be contacted immediately.
Where can I get an Order of Protection?
The DuPage County State's Attorney's Office Victim Services Unit may provide assistance to victims of domestic crime seeking orders of protection. The State's Attorney's Office has the legal authority to assist a victim of a domestic abuse if there is a pending criminal case against the abuser in DuPage County. The Victim Services Advocates assist the petitioner in filing the necessary court documents and accompanies the victim to court. The Assistant State's Attorney assigned to the order of protection courtroom may conduct legal negotiations on behalf of the petitioner or represent the petitioner's interests in an order of protection hearing. The Assistant State's Attorney's assigned to the order of protection court call work closely with the Victim Services Unit to ensure that the victim's needs are adequately meet.
The Victim Services Unit can be reached by calling 630-407-8010 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.
How else does the Domestic Violence Act help protect victims?
The Domestic Violence Act expands the role of the police departments in situations where domestic violence has occurred. Law enforcement officers are given the power to make an arrest without a warrant if there is probable cause of a domestic crime. The ability to make an "on view" arrest for domestic battery or violation of an order of protection allows the police officer to immediately remove the abuser from the victims presence.
The Domestic Violence Act increases the resources available to the police by requiring that the State Police maintain a database of all valid orders of protection. All County Sheriff's Departments must provide daily copies of court orders of protection to the State Police. The officer can access this data on the crime scene to determine the existence of any court order of protection. The police officer may also verify the existence of an order of protection by referring to a certified court copy of the order of protection. Both victims and abusers are furnished with copies of any valid court orders of protection.
The Domestic Violence Act requires that law enforcement officer's utilize all available resources to insure the safety of a victim of domestic violence. Police officer's shall provide or arrange transportation to shelters, medical facilities, or the closest available courthouse to obtain emergency orders of protection. Officers shall also escort victims to their residence to remove any personal belongings. Victims of domestic violence shall be provided a summary of their right under the Domestic Violence Act along with the officers' name and identification number. The officer shall also provide information regarding local social service agencies and emergency shelters.
Is there anyone I can speak to about Domestic Violence?
The DuPage County State's Attorney's Victim Services Unit consists of Victim/Witness advocates who specialize in crisis intervention and court advocacy. Victims of domestic crime can obtain information on counseling, shelters and various social service agencies from Victim/Witness advocates without the fear of public disclosure. Victim/Witness advocates also assist victims with courtroom procedure and witness testimony.
The victim's communications concerning aspects of domestic abuse to a "domestic violence counselor" is considered confidential. These communications between the victim and the advocate include any information relating to advice, assistance, or advocacy related to domestic violence. A "domestic violence counselor" is a person who has completed a minimum of forty hours of domestic advocacy and crisis intervention training and who provides service through a domestic violence program. The Domestic Violence Act mandates that these confidential communications may not be disclosed in any criminal or civil proceeding without the written consent of the domestic violence victim. Please contact Family Shelter Service for more information at 630-469-5650.
Victim/Witness Advocates can be reached by calling 630-407-8010 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.