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What Happens If I Am Subject to an Illinois Order of Protection or No Contact Order?Domestic and sexual abuse are far too prevalent in the U.S. According to data from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men are victims of physical violence by an intimate partner. These eye-opening numbers reveal that domestic violence or stalking victims are often targeted by loved ones. The state of Illinois has taken it upon itself to protect these victims, allowing them to take action against their stalkers or abusers. If you are facing such charges, whether they have substance or not, it is imperative that you are aware of the terms of any legal protections being taken against you. Failure to follow these terms could leave you with serious legal consequences in addition to current charges.

Stalking No Contact Order

Stalking is defined as conduct that causes a person to fear for his or her safety or to suffer emotional distress. This can occur through physical or digital means. A violation of a no contact order is a Class A misdemeanor, with additional violations elevating the charge to a Class 4 felony. The following terms can be included in this order:

  • Forbidding further stalking or threats of stalking
  • Forbidding contact with the victim and labeling certain locations as off-limits to the stalker
  • Prohibiting the stalker from having a valid FOID card and owning a gun

Civil No Contact Order

Victims of nonconsensual sexual conduct or penetration can file for a civil no contact order to protect themselves, their friends and family members, and any rape crisis center employees. Violating this order is a Class A misdemeanor or Class 4 felony for subsequent violations. A judge can include the following terms in a sexual assault civil no contact order:

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What Are My Options to Clear My Criminal Record in Illinois?No one wants to have a stain on their personal record, no matter how minor or serious the charge is. It is fairly common to have a minor offense on your record from earlier in life that was likely the result of a lapse in judgment. However, a bad choice you made in your 20s should not determine who you are now. All arrests and charges, even those that end with a finding of not guilty, are included in your criminal record. Illinois recognizes one’s ability to change and offers citizens a second chance by allowing them to clear their record. While not an option for all offenders, there are three ways to clear a criminal record, each of which has its own requirements and benefits.

Expungement

If you would like your criminal record cleared, expunging the charges is the best way to accomplish this. If you meet all the qualifications and are approved by the court, the expungement will erase all arrests and court supervisions from your record, as if none of them ever happened. Anyone whose charges did not end in conviction, including orders of court supervision and special probation, can apply to have their records expunged but may have to wait years after the end of their supervision or probation before they are eligible. Illinois is unable to erase your record from federal and out-of-state charges.

Sealing

Most criminal convictions in Illinois are ineligible for expungement but can be sealed. While expunging your record completely erases the charges and arrests, sealing your records keeps them from the public eye. Because all criminal records are accessible to the public, sealing them can provide you with more privacy. Having your records sealed does not keep them a secret from everyone — law enforcement agencies and employers will still have access to these records. However, sealed misdemeanor convictions will not be visible to employers unless they are a law enforcement agency.

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What Are the Penalties for Breaking the Stay-At-Home Order?Illinois residents have been under a stay-at-home order since March in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19 outbreaks in the state. When the order was first announced, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said that the police departments did not have the manpower or the desire to enforce the order on an individual level. However, police officers have taken action against people who have violated the order. The Chicago Police Department reported that it issued 4,632 dispersal orders, wrote six citations, and arrested 17 people for violating the stay-at-home order in April. With the order continuing at least through the end of May, it is important to understand when a violation of the order could result in criminal consequences.

Stages of Enforcement

In enforcing the stay-at-home order, police have focused on breaking up large social gatherings and making sure that non-essential businesses remain closed to the public. They generally enforce the order in three stages:

  • People who are violating the order will receive a verbal warning to disperse and a reminder of the order’s requirements.
  • If a person violates the order again, police will deem that person to be deliberately violating the order and issue a citation that includes a fine.
  • Continued violations after the citation may lead to the person being arrested and charged for failing to obey a dispersal order after repeated requests.

The amount of the fine may vary depending on the municipality. In Chicago, a citation for violating the order costs $500. A criminal charge related to violating the order is a misdemeanor, which often does not include mandatory jail time.

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What You Need to Know About Recreational Marijuana in IllinoisOn the first day of 2020, recreational marijuana will officially become legal in Illinois. While this is exciting news for some residents, it is important to know that the possession and use of marijuana will be heavily regulated. You cannot simply possess as much cannabis as you want or smoke it anywhere, though some of these violations will result in merely a fine. As with alcohol, it will still be illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana or to provide marijuana to someone under the age of 21. Here are the important facts you need to know before recreational marijuana becomes legal.

Possession

The amount of marijuana that you can possess will depend on its form, including:

  • No more than 30 grams in flower form
  • No more than 5 grams of cannabis concentrate
  • No more than 500 milligrams of THC in cannabis-infused products

The possession limit for nonresidents of Illinois is half of these amounts. It is illegal for you to grow your own marijuana unless you are a medical marijuana user or a licensed grower. It will be illegal to possess marijuana in a school or any facility meant for childcare. Possessing marijuana in a vehicle, whether you are the driver or a passenger, will be a Class A misdemeanor unless it is sealed in a container. Finally, marijuana possession is still illegal under federal law, meaning you could be charged for possession if you are caught transporting marijuana across state lines or onto federal property.

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