If you have ever been a victim of stalking, this is for you.
When we think of stalking at its worst, the movie Halloween comes to mind: a creepy man follows young girls around, stands outside their school, vandalizes property, kills their dog...you get the picture. It's scary. What's scarier is that all of these acts seem to be threats of true violence yet to come. The scariest part of all is that the movie is not far from reality.
The Stalking No Contact Order Act ("The Stalking Law") recognizes stalking as a serious crime that may lead to violence. Victims experience "fear for their safety, fear for the safety of others and suffer emotional distress." (740 ILCS 21/5). Many victims change their daily schedules to avoid stalkers, and some are so frightened they move to other cities or states. The Stalking Law gives victims a civil remedy requiring stalkers to stay away from them and third parties.
This office recently won a nine-day trial where a father and his two sons sought a Stalking No Contact Order against four brothers they alleged were stalking them. We represented the four brothers...
Hear us out.
Abuse of the System
Our case was really about a family-feud, not stalking. All of the parties involved were related. The father and his sons (the Petitioners) owed our clients' father money and they did not want to pay it. So, rather than settle their family business outside of court, they decided to make many (and we mean MANY) allegations of stalking against our clients.
In a trial, the Petitioners have to prove their case with actual evidence; our clients (the Respondents) are not required to prove they did not commit the acts. Even so, we were, in fact, able to prove that are clients did not and could not have committed certain acts and we were able to show the dishonesty of the Petitioners.
The point is that the Petitioners abused the system. They threw multiple allegations at the wall, hoping that something would stick, but nothing did. They wasted the court's time and the Respondents' money (not their own, because they did not have to pay a dime to bring this case to trial; but more on that later). They were not in danger, they just used the court to pursue their own personal vendetta.
The case is over and our clients are doing fine. However, what about the true victims of stalking? Possibly you, the reader, or a member of your family? People that abuse the Stalking Law, like the Petitioners in our case, diminish its power. The more that frivilous claims are brought before the court, the less likely the public is to take the claims seriously, and the more likely that stalking victims will suffer.
We want to make sure that does not happen.
5 Law Tips if You Are a Victim of Stalking
If you are a stalking victim, here are 5 law tips we hope will help you defend yourself.
1. It is free.
Filing the petition is free, modifying it is free, sending the sheriff out to serve the respondent is free, and YOU are free -to defend yourself. The law is meant to protect you. Take advantage of it.
2. You do not have to disclose your address.
If you are worried that disclosing your address would risk your abuse or abuse of any member of your household, you do not have to disclose it. You would simply give an alternative address for the respondent to serve notice of any motions he/she might file.
3. The court could appoint a lawyer for you.
If the respondent has a lawyer, the court may appoint you a lawyer. Fair is fair.
4. Courts have to hear your case.
No court is allowed to decline to decide your petition for a Stalking No Contact Order. Also, the proceedings are expedited. We want to make sure that your case is heard, and quickly.
5. There are many remedies for you to enjoy.
If your petition is granted, the court may, in addition to other remedies:
a. Prohibit the respondent from stalking you;
b. Order the respondent not to have any contact with you and/or a third-party;
c. Prohibit the respondent from knowingly coming within a specified distance of your home/school/place of employment/etc; and
d. prohibit the respondent from possessing/purchasing firearms.
If you are being stalked by a member of your own family or household, please take a look at the Illinois Domestic Violence Act for further guidance.
If you have any further questions regarding Stalking No Contact Orders, feel free to contact us by clicking on the following link: Rouhy J. Shalabi & Associates
Have a wonderful day.