In Illinois, a person who violates a protective order can be prosecuted with a misdemeanor or felony charge. The crime of violation of a protective order in Illinois is defined in 720 ILCS 5/12-3.4 as follows.
A person commits violation of an order of protection if:
(1) He or she knowingly commits an act which was prohibited by a court or fails to commit an act which was ordered by a court in violation of:
(i) a remedy in a valid order of protection authorized under paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (14), or (14.5) of subsection (b) of Section 214 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986,
(ii) a remedy, which is substantially similar to the remedies authorized under paragraphs (1), (2), (3), (14) or (14.5) of subsection (b) of Section 214 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986, in a valid order of protection, which is authorized under the laws of another state, tribe or United States territory,
(iii) any other remedy when the act constitutes a crime against the protected parties as the term protected parties is defined in Section 112A-4 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963; and
(2) Such violation occurs after the offender has been served notice of the contents of the order, pursuant to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 or any substantially similar statute of another state, tribe or United States territory, or otherwise has acquired actual knowledge of the contents of the order.
Thus, the essential elements of the Illinois crime of violation of a protective order require that there be a valid protective order from an Illinois court or another similar court, and that the person violate the order once they are either served with the order or know that the order of protection exists.
Under Illinois law, a person who gets a third party to take an action that they themselves could not take without violating the protective order is also liable for that violation. This comes up frequently when a person gets a friend to talk to the protected party, or otherwise tries to circumvent the protective order.
Most violation of a protective order charges in Illinois are filed as Class A misdemeanors, making the maximum penalty one year in the county jail and/or a fine of $2,500, with a mandatory minimum sentence of 24 hours in the county jail on a first offense. However, depending upon the facts of the case and a person’s criminal history, then a violation can be charged as a Class 4 felony, which carries up to 3 years in prison.
Aside from the possible criminal charges, a violation of a protective order can be addressed by the Illinois Circuit Court in a contempt proceeding, which can also carry with it a jail term or other punishment. If the parties have children, then a protective order violation conviction or contempt finding may also have lasting impact upon the custody and visitation situation. Clearly, a person who is accused of violation of a protective order in Illinois should promptly consult with an attorney, as it is important to properly handle the case.