Today, I’m going to give you five things to do if you get served with a Petition for an Order of Protection.
First rule: Don’t ignore it, even if you don’t want to see the person again. Particularly if you are a gun owner. Not only are there provisions in Illinois Law that can cause you to have to surrender your FOID card because you are subject to an OP, but 18 USC 922g prohibits anyone from posessing a firearm or ammunition after being served with an Order of Protection. 

Second, Do not speak to the person who filed it, even if they reach out to you. Legally, they are not prohibited from making contact with you, but you can be arrested for responding to them. You need to Document all of the contact this person has had with you, because that can help show that they aren’t serious when they tell the Court they think you’re a threat.

The third thing you should do is seriously consider calling a lawyer. This isn’t fair, but the reality is that a judge is going to take your arguments more seriously if you show up with an attorney, particularly if the attorney has practiced in front of that judge before. Further, the stock and trade of an attorney is to put the best possible face on your argument. You’re all-around more likely to have better luck disputing the OP if someone who does this for a living is there to help you.

The Fourth thing you need to remember is the importance of filing a response, Probably within seven days. Your response is probably going to contain at least one of two things: Either You didn’t do what they say you did, OR What they say you did does not warrant the entry of an OP.

The Fifth thing you need to do is Go to the hearing. Again, it’s best if you bring an attorney with you. Bring along any evidence you might have to refute the claims they’re making. You probably shouldn’t talk to the person before the hearing, which is one reason this process is easier if you bring a lawyer with you. But you need to be prepared to go before the judge, and you need to be prepared to make your case that you’re not the threat this person claims you are.

That’s the basic outline for how to respond to a Petition for an Order of Protection. If you have further questions, you should probably consult an attorney.

By Matt Benson

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