New Illinois Law Will Help Protect Domestic Violence Survivors
DuPage County Family Law Attorneys
Domestic violence has been a common area of discussion, given the recent Ray Rice scandal and the fact that October was National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The state of Illinois joined the movement and recently took a stand against domestic violence by enacting “Diane’s Law,” which will go into effect on January 1, 2015. This law is designed to protect victims of domestic violence by permitting a court to order a risk assessment and electronic surveillance of those with domestic allegations pending against them as a condition of bail.
Domestic violence, under Illinois law, is defined as physical or verbal threats or conduct from one member of a household to another. Household members include those: related by blood: who share a child; who are married; who are dating; or persons with disabilities and their assistants. Any time one household member interferes with the personal liberty of another family member through physical or verbal actions, he or she may be charged with the crime of domestic violence. This type of violence affects an estimated one in four women nationwide, and disproportionately affects those of lower socioeconomic status. Despite this statistic, it is possible for anyone to be a victim of domestic violence, which is why it is important to understand domestic violence law and your rights.
In February 2013, a man threatened to kill his long-term girlfriend, a 61-year-old woman named Diane Kephart. After the threat, Diane immediately obtained an Order of Protection, a court order that prohibits the named parties from contact with the victim. In March, a mere three days after Diane renewed her Order of Protection, the man killed Diane and then himself, in an apparent murder-suicide. Since then, Diane’s surviving family has effortlessly advocated on her behalf to pass a law to protect survivors of domestic violence.
The immediate concern is that an Order of Protection is, in reality, just a piece of paper. These orders can be extremely difficult to enforce given the mass volume of similar orders entered into the court system. While a violation of an Order of Protection in Illinois can be a felony in certain circumstances, this is not necessarily a persuasive enough reason for some people to stay away. Some circumstances may warrant an Emergency Order of Protection, which can be entered on a temporary basis if a victim is concerned for his or her safety. This may include excluding the alleged abuser from your home, even if the home is rented or owned by the abuser.
Diane’s Law gives the courts additional opportunities to ensure Orders of Protection are followed. According to the new law, the court now has the power to implement two screening/monitoring tools before a suspected domestic violence abuser can be released on bail. The court may order assailants charged with domestic assault, battery, kidnapping, stalking, harassment or attempted murder to be subjected to a risk assessment evaluation before they can be released on bail. As a monitoring tool, the court will be permitted to require suspects to wear GPS monitoring devices to assist law enforcement in carrying out Orders of Protection.
Time will tell how effective these measures will be to enforce pre-existing Orders of Protection. It is also be possible that these new laws will be a deterrent to future assailants. However, these laws alone simply cannot fully address the prevalence of domestic violence in our communities. The best way to address the issue is to trust the justice system and report incidents if you are victimized. There are resources available If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence. Obtaining a lawyer is the best option to ensure paperwork is done properly and confidentially, and will give you the best opportunity to remain safe in the future. If you are ever facing an emergency, always call 911 and/or one of many confidential domestic violence hotlines.
Knowing Your Rights
Not all victims of domestic violence are women, and not all aggressors are men. Our experienced domestic violence attorneys at Mulyk Laho Law, LLC, are knowledgeable and well-practiced in all areas of domestic violence law and understand that these actions can arise under many types of unique circumstances. As family law attorneys, we also understand how often these issues arise during divorce proceedings. We have vast experience in dealing with domestic violence as a component of divorce and custody matters.
Our DuPage County domestic violence attorneys represent both victims and those who have domestic charges pending against them. We understand that this is a sensitive, emotional time that can have a significant impact on your future, regardless of what side you are on. We recognize the importance of confidentiality and we are always available as a resource for you. Regardless of whether you are a victim or a suspected assailant, please do not hesitate to contact our office in Glen Ellyn, Illinois to learn more about your legal rights.