Victim Witness and Domestic Violence Services

Victim Witness Services

The office of WIll County State’s Attorney James W. Glasgow includes a Victim Witness Services Unit that provides services to victims and witnesses of crime who reside or were vitimized in the County of Will.

Our Victim advocates will explain services, assess needs, provide resources and referrals, inform crime victims of their rights, how to assert those rights, provide notice of case status, explain court process and proceedings, and provide and coordinate support services during the criminal justice process. Advocates may also accompany victims to court to be available to offer support, explain proceedings, act as a liason to the prosecutor, and ensure safety precautions are consindered and implemental when needed.

To speak with a Victim Advocate, please call our Victim Witness Services Unit at (815) 740-8079 or (815) 724-1380.

The Rights and Responsibilities of Crime Victims and Witnesses

The Constitution of the State of Illinois declares that crime victims have certain legal rights. These rights ensure that people who have been the victim of violent crimes are treated with fairness and respect throughout the criminal justice system.

Additionalyy, the laws which protect the rights of crime victims also afford certain basic rights and considerations to the witness of violent crime – the people who are essential to successful prosecution.

As passed by the Illinois General Assembly, these rights include:

  1. The right to be treated wth fairness and respect for their dignity and privacy and to be free from harassment, intimidation, and abuse throughout teh criminal justice process.
  2. The right to notice and to a hearing before a court ruling on a request for access to any of the victim;s records, information, or communications which are privleged or confidential by law.
  3. The right to timely notification of all court proceedings.
  4. The right to communicate woth the prosecution.
  5. The right to be heard at any post-arraingment court proceeding in which a rigth of the victim is at issue and any court proceeding involving a post-arraingment release decision, plea, or sentencing.
  6. The right to be notified of the conviction, the sentencem the impoisonment and the release of the accused.
  7. Teh right to teh timely disposition of the case following the arrest of the accused.
  8. The rigth to be reasonably protected from the accused through the criminal justice process.
  9. The right to have the safety of the victims and the victim’s family considered in denying or fixing the amount of bail, determining whether to release the defendant and setting conditions of release after arrest and conviction.
  10. The right to be represent at the trial and all other court proceedings on the same basis as the accused, unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial.
  11. The right to have present at all court proceedings, including proceedings under the Juvenile Court Act of 1987, subject to the rules of evidence, an advocate and other support person of the victim’s choice.
  12. The right to restitution.

Rights to Witnesses:

A “Witness” means: any person who personally observed the commission of a crime and who will testify on behalf of the State of Illinois; or a person who will be called by the prosecution to give testimony establishing a necessary nexus between the offender and the violent crime. A witness under this defnition as in the Illinois Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act shall have the following rights:

  1. To be notified by the Office of teh State’s Attorney of all court proceedings at which the witness’ presence is required in a reasonable amount of time prior to the proceeding, and to be notified of the cancellation of any scheduled court proceedings in sufficient time to prevent an unnecessary appearance in court, where possible;
  2. To be provided with appropriate employer intercession services by the Office of teh State’s Attorney or the victim advocate personnel to ensure that employers of witnesses will cooperate with teh criminal justice system in order to minimize an employee’s loss of pay and other benefits resulting from court appearances;
  3. To be provided, whenever possible, a secure waiting area during court proceedings that does not require witnesses to be in close proximity to defendants and their families and friends;
  4. To be provided with notice by the Office of the State’s Attorney, where necessary, of the right to have a translator present whenever the witness’ presence is required and, in compliance with the federal Americans with Disablilities Act of 1990, to be provided with notice of the right to communications access through a sign language interpreter or by other means.

At the written request of the witness, the witness shall:

  1. Receive notice from the office of the State’s Attorney of any request for post-conviction review filed by the defendant under Article 122 of the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963, and of the date, time, and place of any hearing concerning the petition for post-conviction review; whenever possible, notice of the hearing on the petition shall be given in advance;
  2.  Receive notice by the releasing authority of the defendant’s discharge from State custody if the defendant was committed to the Department of Human Services under Section 5-2-4 or any other provision of the Unified Code of Corrections;
  3.  Receive notice from the Prisoner Review Board of the prisoner’s escape from State custody, after the Board has been notified of the escape by the Department of Corrections or the Department of Juvenile Justice; when the escapee is apprehended, the Department of Corrections or the Department of Juvenile Justice shall immediately notify the Prisoner Review Board and the Board shall notify the witness;
  4.  Receive notice from the Prisoner Review Board or the Department of Juvenile Justice of the prisoner’s release on parole, aftercare release, electronic detention, work release or mandatory supervised release and of the prisoner’s final discharge from parole, aftercare release, electronic detention, work release, or mandatory supervised release.

Responsibilities of victims and witnesses:

Victims and witnesses shall have the following responsibilities to aid in the prosecution of violent crime and to ensure that their constitutional rights are enforced:

  1. To make a timely report of the crime.
  2. To cooperate with law enforcement authorities throughout the investigation, prosecution, and trial.
  3. To testify at trial.
  4.  To timely provide information and documentation to the prosecuting attorney that is related to the assertion of their rights.
  5. To notify law enforcement authorities and the prosecuting attorney of any change of contact information, including but not limited to, changes of address and contact information, including but not limited to changes of address, telephone number, and email address. Law enforcement authorities and the prosecuting attorney shall maintain the confidentiality of this information. A court may find that the failure to notify the prosecuting attorney of any change in contact information constitutes waiver of a right.

The Illinois Crime Victim Compensation Program

The Crime Victim Compensation Act was established by the Illinois General Assembly in 1973 with the primary goal of helping to reduce the financial burden imposed on victims of violent crime and their families. The Illinois Crime Victim Compensation Program can provide innocent victims and their families with up to $27,000 in financial assistance for expenses accrued as a result of a violent crime.

Who is eligible?

  1. A person killed or injured in Illinois as a result of a violent crime.
  2.  The parent of a person killed or injured in Illinois as a result of a violent crime.
  3. Dependents of homicide victims.
  4. A person who personally witnessed a violent crime in Illinois or a person whose testimony establishes a necessary nexus between the offender and the violent crime.
  5. An Illinois resident who becomes a victim in another country that does not have a crime victims compensation program.
  6. A minor (under the age of 18) who is the brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, child, or stepchild of a person killed or injured in Illinois (for mental health treatment only).
  7. A deceased person whose remains are desecrated.

What crimes are covered?

  • Arson
  • Assault
  • Battery
  • Child Pornography
  • Criminal Sexual Abuse
  • Criminal Sexual Assault
  • Desecration or Removal of Human Remains
  • Dismembering of a Human Body
  • Domestic Battery
  • Driving While Under the Influence
  • Exploitation of a Child
  • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude a Peace Officer
  • Hate Crimes
  • Hit and Run of a Pedestrian/Person Operating Vehicle Moved Solely by Human Power or Using a Mobility Device
  • Homicide
  • Human Trafficking
  • Involuntary Manslaughter
  • Kidnapping
  • Non-consensual Dissemination of Private Sexual Images
  • Posting of Identifying or Graphic Information on Pornographic Internet Sites
  • Reckless Conduct
  • Stalking
  • Violations of Protective Orders (Domestic Violence Orders of Protection, Civil No Contact Orders, and Stalking No Contact Orders)

What are the basic qualification requirements?

  1. Notify law enforcement within 72 hours of the crime’s occurrence. In cases of sexual assault, sexual abuse, or human trafficking, notify law enforcement within 7 days.
  2. File an application within 2 years of the crime date or 1 year from the date of Indictment. (some limited exceptions may apply).
  3. Cooperate with law enforcement to arrest and prosecute the offender.
    The following also satisfies the notification and cooperation requirements:
    – Obtaining a Plenary Order of Protection, Civil No Contact Order or Stalking No Contact
    – Having a sexual assault evidence collection kit performed
    – Engage in a proceeding involving the status of a human trafficking victim
  4. The victim must not have contributed to or provoked the crime.
  5. A victim who is in jail, prison, probation, or mandatory supervised release for a felony conviction must wait until s/he is discharged from custody before compensation may be granted.

What types of expenses may the Crime Victim Compensation Program pay?

  1. Medical, hospital, and dental expenses.
  2.  Mental health treatment expenses.
    * Services must be provided by a psychiatrist, licensed clinical psychologist, licensed clinical social worker, licensed clinical professional counselor, or a Christian Science practitioner/nurse. Services performed by an unlicensed person working with a licensed person cannot be paid.
  3. Lost wages (up to a maximum of $1,250 per month) due to time missed from work that was not reimbursed by employer with sick, vacation, or personal paid time. The victim must be employed at the time of the crime.
  4. Accessibility costs (e.g., wheelchair, walker, crutches, shower stool).
  5. Relocation costs/temporary lodging.
  6. Loss of tuition for classes dropped as a result of the crime.
  7. Crime scene cleanup (does not include replacement of damaged property).
  8. Tattoo removal costs for victims of human trafficking.
  9. Replacement services loss (i.e., domestic tasks that a victim used to perform, but is no longer able to perform due to the crime).
  10. Replacement costs for the following: locks and windows, prosthetic devices, eyeglasses and hearing aids damaged or necessary as a result of the crime, and clothing or bedding taken as evidence by the police.
  11. Funeral/burial expenses (up to a maximum of $7,500).
  12. Loss of support if the decedent was employed and supporting dependents (up to a maximum of $1,250 per month).
  13. Dependent replacement services loss (i.e., necessary domestic services that the victim would have continued to perform for the survivor’s benefit without being compensated).
  14. The maximum total payments are limited to $27,000 and several expenses have caps (e.g., funeral/burial expenses as stated above).
    The Illinois Crime Victims Compensation Program is the payor of last resort. All other sources of payment must be exhausted before an award may be issued by the Crime Victims Compensation Program including the following: medical, health, dental, or vision insurance, Public Aid, Medicare, discounts available under the Hospital Uninsured Patient Discount Act, Worker’s Compensation Benefits, life insurance, auto insurance, restitution, and any other reasonable source.

What types of expenses cannot be paid by the Crime Victim Compensation Program?

  1. Any expenses not related to the crime
  2. Pain and suffering
  3. Stolen, damaged or lost property (except locks and windows)
  4. Attorney’s fees
    Do I get the money for compensation?
    Payment will be reimbursed to you for your out-of-pocket expenses or directly reimbursed to the service providers if the bills are outstanding.

What happens when the Crime Victim Compensation Program receives my application?

  1. Your application will be reviewed by the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Crime Victim Compensation Program.
  2. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office Crime Victim Compensation Program will obtain the police report and other documents necessary to determine your eligibility.
  3. A representative from the Illinois Attorney General’s Office Crime Victim Compensation Program will contact you. Be sure to notify the Attorney General’s Office of any change in your contact information.
  4. If you are eligible, you will receive a letter requesting that you submit proof of your losses within 30 days of receiving the letter.
  5. The Illinois Attorney General’s Office Crime Victim Compensation Program will verify your losses and will make a recommendation to the Court of Claims.
  6. The Court of Claims will render a final decision based on the application and the Attorney General’s recommendation.
  7. The final decision will be mailed to you. Any and all payments will be issued by the Comptroller’s Office.
    The above information may not cover every situation. For all requirements and complete
    information, consult the Crime Victims Compensation Act, 740 ILCS 45/1 et seq. at or contact:
    Illinois Attorney General
    Crime Victim Compensation Bureau
    100 W. Randolph Street, 13th Floor
    Chicago, IL 60601
    1-800-228-3368 (Voice) 1-877-398-1130 (TTY).

You may also contact the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office Victim Witness Services at (815) 740-8079 or (815) 724-1380 to request a Crime Victim Compensation Application and for assistance completing the Application.

Domestic Violence Services

Domestic violence can happen to anyone. It does not matter what age, race, sexual orientation, income, education, ability, or gender someone may be. Anyone can suffer from abuse at any time.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence can take on many forms:

Physical abuse (includes but not limited to): pushing, shoving, slapping, hitting, kicking, punching, choking or restricting airway/breathing, pinching, burning, beating, spitting, hair pulling, throwing objects, damaging property, cruelty to pets or animals, threats or use of weapons (guns, knives, or any object), physical restraint (pinning against wall, floor, bed, etc).

Verbal and emotional abuse (includes but not limited to): name calling, yelling, degrading remarks, verbal insults, cussing, threatening, belittling, attempts to control, constant phone calls, actively undermining, manipulation, extreme jealousy, explosive temper, harsh criticism, efforts to foster self-doubt and lower self-esteem.

Controlling behavior (includes but not limited to): isolates you from friends and family, confinement, stalking, monitoring or tracking your movements and whereabouts, possessive, tells you what to wear and who you can talk to, controls what you eat, prevents you from making own decisions, controls finances and money, sabotages employment, child care arrangements or plans with friends or family, coercive, intimidating, pressuring or forcing you to use drugs or alcohol.

Social abuse (includes but not limited to): checking your phone, invading your privacy, confining, isolating, publically embarrassing, publically degrading, not allowing you to attend school, not allowing you to work or go to work, trying to convince friends and family you are crazy, slandering your reputation, non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images.

Sexual abuse (includes but not limited to): unwanted touching, forced or coerced sexual activity, painful or degrading acts during intercourse, sexual exploitation through pornography or prostitution, forcing sex with others, withholding contraceptives or refusing to use protection to prevent pregnancy or protection from sexually transmitted diseases.

Financial/Economic abuse (includes but not limited to): Deny access to family assets (bank accounts, credit cards, vehicle, etc), destroy property or prized possessions, take money you earn or deny access to money, withhold medical treatment, not allow you to work or attend school or force you to work.

Neglect (includes but not limited to): Fail to provide or withhold food, shelter, clothing, and personal hygiene to a dependent person who needs such assistance, failure to take care of the needs of the dependent person, and the failure to protect the dependent person from health and safety hazards.

Spiritual abuse (includes but not limited to): Using religion or spiritual beliefs to control, manipulate or empower abuser to engage in controlling and/or abusive behavior such as make all family decisions, rigidly define roles of woman and men in the relationship/marriage, expecting to be treated with a level of respect that is not returned.

Possible Characteristics of Abusers

• Tries to control others
• Rushes into relationships
• Manipulative
• Criticizes/humiliates
• Belittles/degrades
• Puts others down
• Has unrealistic expectations
• Uses intimidation
• Makes frequent demands
• Excessively jealous/possessive
• Explosive temper
• Violent personality changes
• Irrational anger/rage
• Denies responsibility for own actions
• Blames others
• Makes threats
• Damages property
• Controls finances
• Abuses drugs/alcohol
• Abuses pets/animals
• May have grown up in abusive household
• Isolate partner from friends/family
• Rigid belief in traditional gender roles
• Threatens to commit suicide
• Threatens to harm or kill

Effects of Abuse on Victims

• Feeling hopeless and helpless
• Feeling confused about the relationship
• Blames herself for the abuse
• Makes excuses for the abuser’s behavior
• Feeling isolated from friends and family
• Self-doubt
• Wonders if she is crazy/insane
• Feeling emotionally numb
• Feeling embarrassed about the abuse
• Loss of self-esteem
• Tries to change the abuser
• Hopes the abuser will change
• Fears for her safety/wellbeing
• Experiences nightmares/sleep disturbances
• Has difficulty concentrating
• Experiences disturbed eating patterns
• Developed hyper vigilance, depression and/or anxiety
• Symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder

Protective Orders

There are three types of civil protective orders in the state of Illinois; Orders of Protection (OP), Civil No Contact Orders (CNCO) and Stalking No Contact Orders (SNCO). When a criminal case is pending, a “No Contact” order as a condition of bond may be ordered by the Judge.

Effective January 1, 2019, a family or household member or law enforcement officer may petition for a Firearms Retraining Orders (FRO) against a person alleged to pose a danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself, or another by having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving a firearm.

The process of petitioning for an Order of Protection, Civil No Contact Order and Stalking No Contact Order through the civil court is the same for each type of protective order and is similar for Firearms Restraining Orders.

Order of Protection (OP)

What is an Order of Protection?

An Order of Protection is a legal document granted by the judge that orders the person who has threatened or hurt you to stop and have no contact or limited contact with you. Seeking an Emergency Order of Protection can be a very important step in staying safer. It is important to seek an Emergency Order of Protection immediately, or as soon as possible, after the occurrence of domestic violence.

Who is eligible for an Order of Protection?

Family or household members of an alleged abuser who have been the victim of domestic abuse/violence may petition for an Order of Protection. According to the Illinois Domestic Violence Act (IDVA), abuse is defined as physical abuse, harassment, intimidation of a dependent, interference with personal liberty or willful deprivation. The IDVA defines family or household members as:

  • Persons related by blood or by present or former marriage.
  • Persons who have or have or had a dating or engagement relationship.
  • Persons who have or allegedly have a child in common.
  • Persons who share or allegedly share a blood relationship through a child
  • Persons who live together or formerly lived together.
  • Persons with disabilities and their personal assistants.
  • High risk adults with disabilities abused by a family member or caregiver.
  • Caregivers (as defined in Section 12-4.4a of the Criminal Code of 2012).

How much will an Order of Protection cost?

It’s free. The IDVA states that there are no fees charged for filing an Order of Protection.

How long does an Order of Protection last?

The duration of an Order of Protection may vary. Your attorney or court advocate can best answer this question for you. There are three types of Orders of Protection. Each type may be granted for a specific length of time.

EMERGENCY ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be in effect for a 14- to 21-day period.

INTERIM ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be effective for up to 30 days.

PLENARY ORDER OF PROTECTION: This order can be in effect for a fixed period of time, not to exceed two years, unless otherwise provided for by the court. This order can also expire by the occurrence of a specific event.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under an Order of Protection?

The judge can grant up to 18 remedies to keep you safer including:

  • Ordering the Respondent to stop abusive behaviors.
  • Limiting or stopping contact between the Respondent and you.
  • Ordering the Respondent to leave your home and stay away from it.
  • Limiting or stopping the Respondent´s visitation with the children.
  • Protecting certain items of property, like cars or household goods.
  • Ordering the Respondent to pay for child support or other expenses.
  • Ordering the Respondent to get counseling.
  • Ordering the Respondent to turn in guns or other weapons to the police.

Where do I get an Emergency Order of Protection?

You can petition for an Emergency Order of Protection Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on the second floor at the Will County Courthouse, 14 W. Jefferson St., in downtown Joliet.

Who is the respondent and who is the petitioner?

The victim files the petition and is called the petitioner. The petition is filed against the abuser who is called the respondent.

Do I need an attorney to Petition for an Order of Protection?

You can Petition for an Order of Protection on your own, but it may be helpful to have an attorney represent you. Prairie State Legal Services offers a toll free Victims Legal Advice Line – (844) 388-7757 – that is available to survivors of domestic and sexual abuse for legal advice about certain matters. Prairie State Legal Services also provides free legal assistance and representation on certain civil matters to individuals who meet their eligibility requirements. Please call Prairie State Legal Services Joliet Office directly at (815) 727-5123 to determine your eligibility for assistance.

The Will County Bar Association offers a Lawyer Referral Service in which each participating attorney will charge $15 for the initial 30 minute consultation. (Beyond 30 minutes, they charge their rates, including any retainer fees).  You can request a lawyer referral through this service by going to the Will County Bar Association website at or calling (815) 726-0383.

It is also be helpful to speak with an advocate. Guardian Angel Community Services provides legal advocacy and they can be reached at their Domestic Violence 24-hour hotline at (815) 729-1228 and the Sexual Assault 24-hour hotline at (815) 730-8984.

How are the Orders of Protection filled out?

The first step is completing what is referred to as a Petition for Order of Protection. You are petitioning or requesting the court grant the Order of Protection against the respondent. A Petition for Order of Protection may be completed at the courthouse or from any computer or electronic device with internet access at Courthouse employees and/or domestic violence advocates are available at the courthouse to assist with completing the Petition. Once the Petition is completed and signed, it is taken before a judge to be reviewed. The judge determines whether there is good cause shown for an Order of Protection to be granted.

How do I complete a Petition for Order of Protection online?

You can start or complete a Petition online at This website can be accessed on any computer or electronic device with internet access at any time. The website is very user friendly and has tabs/links to click to define terms and assist you as you complete the Petition. Once you start a Petition online, you will receive a receipt number at the beginning of the process. This number should be kept in a safe location and allows you to start, stop and continue completing the petition as needed. You can complete or partially complete the Petition online. When you are ready to go the courthouse to proceed with the Petition, you must take the receipt number to the Order of Protection Room. The Order of Protection courthouse staff will assist with finishing the Petition or any final preparations for the judge’s

What is the process to obtain an Emergency Order of Protection/Plenary Order of Protection?

  • Go to the Order of Protection Room at the courthouse.
    If you have completed or partially completed the Petition online bring your receipt number with you and provide to the Order of Protection courthouse staff. If you have not completed the Petition online, you will need to complete the Petition in the Order of Protection Room.
  • The Petition will ask about the most recent incident of violence/abuse as well as past incidents of abuse.
  • Include as much detail as possible in your Petition.
  • Your children may be protected under your Emergency Order of Protection. You need to write about any abuse directed at them.
  • You will go before a judge who will hear your petition.
  • Tell the judge about the abuse.
  • Try to stay calm and answer any questions the judge may have.
  • If you are afraid of your abuser, you must tell the judge.
  • The judge may grant your Emergency Order of Protection for a two or three week period during which the respondent will be served or attempts will be made to serve the respondent with notice of the Emergency Order of Protection and a summons to appear for a hearing on the Plenary Order of Protection.
  • The judge may not grant the Emergency Order of Protection and may schedule a hearing on the Plenary Order about three weeks from the date the Petition is filed. During this time the respondent will be served or attempts will be made to serve the respondent with a summons to appear for the hearing on the Plenary Order.
  • If a hearing is scheduled for a Plenary Order, you must return to court on the hearing date to seek the Plenary Order of Protection which may be may be entered for up to two years.
  • At the hearing for the Plenary Order, it is important to know the alleged abuser/respondent will have a chance to appear and tell his or her side of the story.
  • Knowing the respondent may be present for the hearing, consider any safety planning that may be necessary – Not attending court alone, contacting an advocate to accompany you, having someone accompany you to and from the courthouse, etc.
  • At the hearing, try to stay calm, tell the judge why it is important that the Plenary Order of Protection is granted and answer any questions the judge may have.
  • The judge will ensure both sides are heard.

What if the judge denies the Emergency Order of Protection and the Plenary Order of Protection?

There is a possibility the judge may deny the Petition for Emergency Order of Protection and set a hearing on the Plenary Order of Protection. This could mean the judge wants to hear both sides before making a decision on whether to grant the Order of Protection. The judge could also deny the Order of Protection all together. However, if anything of an abusive, harassing or threatening nature were to occur you can always petition for an Emergency Order of Protection again. Just because a petition was denied once does not mean that another petition in the future will be denied.

Do I need pictures or a police report to obtain an Emergency Order of Protection?

Police reports and pictures can be helpful, but are not necessary to file for an Emergency Order of Protection. If you have visible injuries, ALWAYS take pictures.

Can I bring my phone into Court?

If there is information on your phone you believe is evidence of the respondents abusive, harassing or threatening behavior, inform the judge of this at the Emergency hearing and request permission to bring your phone into court at the Plenary hearing. You CANNOT bring your phone into the courthouse without a form from the judge granting you permission.

How long will I be in the courthouse?

The process of filing for an Emergency Order of Protection can be lengthy and may take several hours. For your convenience, washrooms are located on each floor of the courthouse and there is a snack room on the first floor as well as many eating establishments within walking distance.

How do criminal charges affect my Order of Protection?

They don’t. Orders of Protection and criminal charges are two separate matters.If no criminal charges are filed, or if they are dismissed, you may still petition for an Order of Protection.

Civil No Contact Order (CNCO)

What is a Civil No Contact Order?

A Civil No Contact Order is a civil protective order similar to an Order of Protection but is designed specifically for survivors of sexual assault. Whether or not an assault is reported or charges are filed, a survivor may petition for a Civil No Contact Order to address their safety and protection from future interactions with the offender. Petitioning for a Civil No Contact Order follows the same process as petitioning for an Order of Protection.

Who is eligible for a Civil No Contact Order?

  • Any person who is the victim of nonconsensual sexual conduct or sexual penetration.
  • Any family or household member of the victim.
  • Any employee of or volunteer at a rape crisis center that is providing services to the petitioner or the petitioner’s family or household member.

How much will it cost?

It’s free. The Civil No Contact Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Civil No Contact Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Civil No Contact Order?

The judge may grant any or all of the following remedies:

  • Prohibiting Contact with the victim.
  • Ordering the offender to stay away from the victim and/or to stay away from specific locations.
  • Ordering the offender to stay away from property or animals owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the petitioner.
  • Ordering offender to transfer to another school if the victim and offender attend same school.
  • Other injunctive relief necessary to protect the victim.

The process of petitioning for a Civil No Contact Order is the same as for an Order of Protection. For more information about the process please see the information provided under the Order of Protection link.

Stalking No Contact Orders (SNCO)

What is a Stalking No Contact Order?

A Stalking No Contact Order is a civil protective order similar to an Order of Protection but is designed for any person who is the victim a course of conduct that causes the victim fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person or to suffer emotional distress and relief is not available to the victim through the Illinois Domestic Violence Act or the Civil No Contact Order Act. Petitioning for a Stalking No Contact Order follows the same process as petitioning for an Order of Protection.

Who is eligible for a Stalking No Contact Order?

  • Any person who is a victim of stalking and relief is not available through the Illinois Domestic Violence Act or the Civil No Contact Order Act.
  • A person on behalf of a minor child or an adult who is a victim of stalking but, because of age, disability, health, or inaccessibility, cannot file the petition.

How much will a Stalking No Contact Order cost?

It’s free. The Stalking No Contact Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Stalking No Contact Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Civil No Contact Order?

The judge may grant any or all of the following remedies:

  • Prohibiting further stalking or threats of stalking.
  • Prohibiting contact with the victim.
  • Ordering stalker to stay away from specific locations.
  • Prohibiting stalker from having a FOID card and possessing or buying firearms.
  • Ordering other injunctive relief necessary to protect the victim.

The process of petitioning for a Stalking No Contact Order is the same as for an Order of Protection. For more information about the process please see the information provided under the Order of Protection link.

Firearms Restraining Order (FRO)

What is a Firearms Restraining Order?

A Firearms Restraining Order is an Order issued by the civil court, prohibiting a person from having in his or her custody or control, purchasing, possessing, or receiving any firearms.

Who may petition for a Firearms Restraining Order?

  • A Family member of the Respondent. Family member is defined as a spouse, parent, child, or step-child of the respondent, any other person related by blood or present marriage to the respondent, or a person who shares a common dwelling with the respondent
  • A law enforcement officer.

How much will a Firearms Restraining Order cost?

It’s free. The Firearms Restraining Order Act states that there are no fees charged for filing a Firearms Restraining Order.

What remedies may be granted by the judge under a Firearms Restraining Order?

  • Prohibit respondent from having in his or her custody or control any firearms.
  • Prohibit respondent from purchasing, possessing, or receiving additional firearms.
  • Order respondent to turn over to the local law enforcement agency any Firearm Owner’s Identification Card (FOID) and concealed carry license in his or her possession.
  • If the Court finds probable cause to believe that the Respondent is in possession of firearms, then (1) the Court shall issue a warrant for the seizure of the firearms; and (2) the Court may issue a search warrant to locate the firearms.

For more information, please contact the Will County Court House at (815) 727-8592, TTY: 800-526-0844 or go to their website at

Safety Planning

Take steps to protect yourself against the potential for future violence. You can develop a plan to increase your safety. Although you do not have control over your partner’s violence, you can choose how to respond and how to get you and/or your children to safety. Most of the safety planning you do should occur before an attack.


1) Prepare an Emergency Kit including:

  • Money (Checkbook, ATM card, credit cards, bank books).Be careful in using bank accounts/credit cards after you leave your abuser because he may be able to track this activity.
  • Identification for yourself including birth certificate.
  • Identification for your children including birth certificates.
  • Social security cards.
  • School and vaccination records.You might consider contacting schools and doctor’s offices to make sure your abuser cannot access these records.
  • Insurance papers.
  • Keys for the house, car or office.
  • Drivers license and registration.
  • Medication and medical records for you and your children.
  • Public Aid identification, work permits, medical cards.
  • Passports.
  • Legal documents including divorce, child custody, Orders of Protection, visitation orders, etc.
  • Lease agreements, deeds, mortgage payment books.
  • Address book.
  • Pictures, jewelry, other items of sentimental value.
  • Your children’s favorite toy or blanket.
  • Phone – You might consider contacting phone companies to make sure your abuser cannot access account information. If you do not have a cell phone, contact a domestic violence program and ask if they have access to a no contract cell phone that you can use to call 911 at any time.

2) Make Contacts: Decide if and when you will tell others that you have been abused. Friends, family and co-workers can help protect you. Consider carefully which people you trust to help secure your safety. You may also consider choosing one of these people to leave your emergency kit with to ensure that your abuser does not find it. Make sure that the people you choose know why you are leaving them these items so they do not accidentally let it slip if your abuser talks with them.NOTE: If you do not have any safe contacts, consider placing your emergency kit items in your desk drawer at work or hidden somewhere inside your home. Keys can be hidden in a magnetic box that attaches under the fender of your car. Check for the box frequently.

3) Develop an Escape Plan: If you need to leave during a violent incident, practice beforehand how you will get out safely. Practice your exit.

4) Find a Safe Place: Decide ahead of time on two safe alternative places where you can go if you must flee an abusive relationship. Notify these people ahead of time and share your emergency contact information with them ahead of time. This will allow your safety contacts to plan ahead of time for their own safety as well as yours. Tell a trusted family member or friend about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your house.

5) Will County Domestic Violence Services: Contact your local domestic violence agency to find out about the services that are available to you. Ask the domestic violence advocates about creating a safety plan and whether or not they provide shelter if you need a safe place to escape to.

The domestic violence agency for Will County is:
Guardian Angel Community Services
Groundwork Domestic Violence Program24 Hour Hotline: (815) 729-1228

TTY: (815)

NOTE: Always remember to call 911 in the event of an emergency.

6) Prepare Your Children: Whether or not your children have been harmed by your abuser, they are still at risk in any violent relationship.

• Teach your children to use the telephone and call 911 when necessary.
• Rehearse your escape plan with them but have realistic expectations. Your children may be frightened of your abuser, but be aware they may also feel uneasy keeping secrets from him.
• Tell teachers, caregivers and babysitters who has permission to pick up your children and to call the police if you abuser arrives to pick them up instead.
• If you have an Order of Protection, make sure each child’s school has a copy on file.
• Develop a code word ahead of time you can use with your children so they know when to call for help.

7) Safety at Your Home: There are various additional precautions that you may take if your abuser does not reside with you. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be taken and added. Consider the following:

• Change the locks on all doors and windows.
• Replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
• Install security devices that can include anything from additional locks to poles, wedges against doors, window bars and electronic systems.
• Purchase rope ladders to use to escape from second story windows.
• Install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for each floor in your house or apartment.
• Install outside lighting systems that are motion sensitive.
• Install home surveillance systems if possible.
• Inform your neighbors, pastor, and friends that your abuser no longer resides with you. Let them know that they should call the police if they see your former partner near your residence.
• Buy a cell phone with no contract and limited minutes so that you have access to 911 at all times.
• Teach your children how to use the telephone to make collect calls to let you or others know if the abuser has taken them. They should always call 911 first!
• Tell teachers, caregivers and babysitters who has permission to pick up your children and to call the police if your abuser arrives to pick them up instead.
• Make sure your children’s school has a copy of your Order of  Protection.


Minimize your risk.

Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen or anywhere near weapons or in rooms without access to an outside door. When you think you are going to have an argument, try to move to a space that is low-risk.

Trust yourself.

Always use your judgment and intuition. You know better than anyone else how your abuser is likely to react. If you feel that the situation is serious, and it is safe to do so, give your abuser what he wants to calm him down. You must protect yourself until you and/or your children are out of danger.

Call for Help.

Keep a cell phone on you at all times, even if its just a no contract cell phone that you can use to call 911. If you do not have a phone when an attack occurs, scream loudly and continuously. You have nothing to be ashamed of. He does.

Get Away.

Escape if you can.Go to a relative’s or friend’s house or a domestic violence shelter.

Call the Police.

The police must now attempt to protect you from further abuse. They are required to provide or arrange transportation to a hospital or safe place for you and can arrest your abuser if they have enough evidence of a crime. They must give you a paper explaining your rights and telling you of one social service agency which can help.


Seek Medical Attention Immediately.

Tell the doctor or nurse what happened and ask them to take pictures of your injuries. Find out how to get copies of your records if you need them later.

Make a Police Report.

Police reports may be filed with the local police department or the county sheriff’s department. Once a police report is completed the police department may provide it the State’s Attorney’s Office for review to determine whether charges can be filed. You may also contact the State’s Attorney’s Office yourself and provide the police report for review to determine whether charges may be filed.

NOTE: If the police take photographs of your injuries on the scene, specifically bruising injuries, it is important to follow up and have the police take additional photographs as the injuries progress (bruising wounds usually do not develop fully until a day or two after an attack.)

Save Evidence.

The police should compile any evidence including pictures of your injuries, damage to property, torn clothing, any weapons used and statements from anyone who heard or saw the attack.

NOTE: It is also suggested that you take pictures of any injuries for your own records in case you may need to use them in civil proceedings.

Talk to Someone about the choices you have including a domestic violence social service agency which can give you information about whom to call for help and what some of your choices are. Find out about legal remedies available to you through an Order of Protection.

Create an Abuse Journal.

Writing down dates, times, and details of your abusive history can be extremely helpful in any legal proceedings involving you and you abuser. Remember to also keep this journal in a safe place away from your abuser which may mean a secure location outside of the home.

Remember, most abusers become more violent over time. Physical violence, especially, tends to become more severe and more frequent. Even though you may be afraid, take action NOW! Your safety and the safety of your children may depend upon your willingness to act. It can be more dangerous to do nothing than to take some action.

This safety plan can be used as a general guide for all victims of domestic violence; however, each person’s situation is unique. It is important to contact a domestic violence program in order to create a safety plan that is specific to your situation. Having these steps completed ahead of time can make your decision to leave an abusive situation much easier. In addition, these things can help you find peace of mind and a sense of more control over your life.

Special Circumstances

Safety on the Job and in Public:

Remember to carefully select who you tell about the violence and who you choose to help. It is important to make sure the person is comfortable calling the police if your abuser shows up at work or finds you in public. This is also a safety issue for this person. As a victim of domestic violence, you may do any of the following to ensure the safety of yourself and your dependents:

  • Inform your employer or the security supervisor at work of your situation.
  • Ask a coworker to help you screen your calls at work.
  • When leaving work, ask security to walk you to your car.
  • Shop at different grocery stores and malls. Shop at hours that are different than those you normally use.
  • Use a different bank and bank at hours different from those you usually use.
  • Take different driving routes to places that you frequent.
    Safety and Your Emotional HealthBeing abused and verbally degraded can be exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life takes courage and energy. Consider these steps that you can take to conserve your energy and ease the emotional strain.
  • Think about the things you can tell yourself when you are considering returning to an abusive situation.
  • Educate yourself on domestic violence and ways to develop healthy relationships for the future.
  • Identify the red flags of an abusive relationship and always keep them in mind.
  • Consider books, magazines, internet self-help pages, etc. that you can read to make yourself stronger.
  • Attend support groups and/or individual therapy through a local domestic violence program in order to gain support and strengthen your relationships with other people.
    Safety with an Order of ProtectionYou can never be certain whether an abuser will obey an Order of Protection or not. Recognize that you may need to ask the police or the courts to enforce your Order of Protection.
  • Keep your Order of Protection so that it will always be with you. It should be easily accessible in your purse, in the car, in your office, etc.
  • Make several copies of your Order of Protection in case it is requested by the police, your child’s school or a state agency.
  • File your Order of Protection with the court in other counties that you visit regularly.
  • Call your local domestic violence program if you are unsure of any of the steps listed here or if you are having problems regarding your Order of Protection.
  • If your Order of Protection is lost or stolen, you can get another copy from the Will County Courthouse by going to the Circuit Court Clerk’s Office at 14 W. Jefferson Street in Joliet, IL.
  • If your Order of Protection is violated, you should call the police immediately and file a report. Also, contact your attorney and/or advocate if you have one.
  • Once a police report is filed, you may also ask that a complaint be filed with the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office at 121 N. Chicago Street, Monday through Friday 8:30am to 4:30pm.
  • The State could potentially charge your abuser with a violation of the Order of Protection and all the crimes that he commits in violating that order.
    Safety and Drug or Alcohol UseIf your abuser uses drugs or alcohol, your risk for violence increases significantly. If you use drugs or alcohol, your ability to react quickly and use sound judgment can be lessened. Additionally, your drug or alcohol use can be used against you in legal proceedings with your abuser by lessening your credibility.
  • Your abuser may use his drug or alcohol use as an excuse for “losing control” during an abusive incident.
  • Drug and alcohol use and abuse are never an excuse for violence. Rather, they are additional risk factors that may contribute to the frequency and severity of violence.
  • Keep friends that understand the risk of violence and who are committed to staying clean and sober and will help you stay safe.
  • If you think that you have a problem with drugs or alcohol, contact a local treatment program to have an assessment completed.

Victim Resources

Automated Victim Notification/ 866-566-8439
(provides victim notification of a defendant’s release
from custody and court dates)

Catholic Charities/Daybreak Center 815-723-3405
(emergency & transitional housing, support services)

Childhood Trauma and Treatment 630-679-0127
Program (Bolingbrook)
(for child survivors of sexual abuse between the ages of 4-17,
Provided at no cost under certain eligibility requirements)

Court Appointed Special Advocate 815-730-7072
(advocates for children in abuse/neglect cases)

Crime Victim Compensation 800-228-3368
(Illinois Attorney General’s Office Program, victims of violent
crimes may be eligible for reimbursement of certain out of pocket
expenses related to crime)

Crisis Line of Will County (Joliet) 815-722-3344
(provides information & referral services,
counseling, suicide prevention & intervention)

Crisis Line of Grundy County 815-942-6611

Crisis Line of Bolingbrook 630-759-4555

Crisis Line of Frankfort 815-469-6166

Crisis Line of Mokena 708-479-1399

Crisis Line of New Lenox 815-485-7366

Crisis Line of Peotone 708-258-3333

Crisis Line of Wilmington 815-476-6969

Illinois Dept. of Human Services 815-740-5350
(may provide temporary income assistance,
food stamps and/or medical assistance)

Family Counseling Center/New Lenox 815-462-4273
Joliet location 815-722-4384
(affiliate of Trinity Services, children and adults, individual
and group counseling, English and Spanish, private Ins,
Medicaid, sliding fee scale)

Groundwork Program (GACS) 815-729-1228
24-hour Hotline
(crisis intervention, emergency shelter,
advocacy and counseling services, all services free)

Lamb’s Fold Center for Women & 815-723-5262
Children – Trinity Services
(provides transitional shelter for women
with support services)

Orders of Protection Help Desk 815-740-8064
(Will County Circuit Clerk’s Office ~ 8:30am-4:30pm)
(14 West Jefferson Street, Joliet, IL 60432)

Sexual Assault Services Center 815-730-8984
24-hour Hotline (GACS)
(offers counseling, advocacy and support to
victims of sexual assault, all services free)

Stepping Stones 815-744-4555
(provides alcohol and substance abuse counseling)

Victims Legal Advice Line (toll free) 844-388-7757
(legal advice line for DV/SA survivors)

Will County State’s Attorney’s Office 815-727-8453
(57 N. Ottawa Street, Joliet, IL 60432) (main line)

Will County State’s Attorney’s Office
Victim Witness Services 815-740-8079
(provides support services for crime victims
and witnesses)

Will County Children’s Advocacy Center 815-774-4565
(Interviews children who have been a victim of or witness
to violent crimes with child sensitive approach, provides
counseling and support services at no fee)

Will County Legal Assistance Program 815-727-5123
Prairie State Legal Services
(provides help with Orders of Protection and other
civil legal services for qualifying victims)

Workforce Services – Will County 815-727-4444
(provides online job listings, workshops,
resume assistance and job training)

Area Domestic Violence Shelters
Will County Area

Groundwork (Joliet) 815-729-1228
(shelter, counseling)

Harbor House (Kankakee) 815-932-5800
(shelter, counseling)

Alternatives to Domestic Violence 815-673-1555
(Streator) 24-hour Hotline 800-892-3375

Mutual Ground (Aurora) 630-897-0080
(shelter, counseling)

Family Shelter Service (Wheaton) 630-469-5650
(shelter, counseling)

South Suburban Family Shelter 708-798-7737
(shelter, counseling)

Sarah’s Inn (Oak Park) 708-386-4225
(24-hour shelter referrals, counseling, transportation
and housing assistance)

Crisis Center for South Suburbia 708-429-7233
(Tinley Park) (TTY) 708-429-7284
(shelter, counseling)

Chicago Area Resources

Access Living 312-640-2100
(provides court advocacy, non-residential social
services, and social services for those with

Apna-Ghar 773-334-4663
(provides holistic services and conducts outreach
and advocacy across immigrant communities to
end gender violence)

Between Friends 800-603-4357
(provides court advocacy, counseling and support

Bobby E. Wright Comprehensive 773-722-7900
Behavioral Health Center

Center on Halsted Anti-Violence 773-871-2273
(provides counseling, support services and advocacy
for the LGBTQ community)

Chicago Hearing Society 773-248-9121 Video Phone: 773-904-0154
(provides Court advocacy, non-residential social
services for deaf and hard-of hearing victims)

Chicago Legal Clinic 773-731-1762
(provides community-based legal services and
education to the underserved and disadvantaged in
the Chicago area, free or sliding fee scale/low cost)

Constance Morris House 708-485-5254
(provides court advocacy, crisis intervention, shelter,
counseling, services provided at no fee)

Family Rescue 773-375-8400
(provides shelter, housing assistance, (TTY) 773-375-8774 counseling, legal advocacy, support services)

Gads Hill Center 312-226-0963
(early childhood education, youth programs, family
support services, mental health services)

House of the Good Shepherd 773-935-3434
(non-emergency shelter for women with children or
who are pregnant that provides support services)

Illinois 24-hour Domestic Violence 877-863-6338

Korean American Women in Need 773-583-0880
(transitional housing for DV/SA survivors in immigrant
communities, legal advocacy, support group, support services)

Legal Assistance Foundation 312-341-1070
of Chicago
(provides free legal assistance to people living in
Chicago and suburban Cook County)

Center for Disability and Elder Law 312-376-1880
(provides free legal services to Cook County low-income
seniors and adults with disabilities)

Indiana area resources

St. Jude House 219-662-7066
24-hour crisis line 800-254-1286
(shelter for DV/SA survivors and their children)

Middle Way House – 24-hour crisis line 812-336-0846
(shelter, services for survivors of domestic violence,
Sexual violence and human trafficking)

Alternatives, Inc. – 24-hour crisis line 866-593-9999
(shelter, court advocacy, children’s programs, support

Victims and the Court Process – Frequently Asked Questions

As a victim or witness, your role is critical. You have seen, heard, know or experienced something that is important to the investigation of a case. If you have been the victim or witness of a crime, the first step in the criminal justice process is to immediately report the crime to your local police or sheriff’s department.

The police will ask you questions regarding the incident and will then prepare a police report. Tell the police exactly what happened: date, time, place, description of the offender(s), names and addresses of any witnesses (if possible), items that may have been taken, property that was damaged and injuries that you may have received. Be truthful in providing information. Please keep the agency advised where you are living and your telephone numbers.

How does a criminal charge get filed?

The police department will bring the police reports to the State’s Attorney’s Office to file a complaint. After reviewing the report, if the State’s Attorney’s Office determines that there is enough evidence to prosecute a case, a complaint will be issued and charges will be filed. If there is insufficient evidence, a complaint will not be issued, and no charges will be filed, although additional investigation may be required. If a complaint is filed and an individual is not arrested, the Police Department can seek to have a warrant issued.

What happens at the first court appearance?

If charges are filed and the accused person is arrested, he or she will soon appear in court. The Judge will set bond, any conditions of bond and advise the defendant of the charges against him.

The court considers several things when determining bond for the accused:

the nature of the offense, evidence, defendant’s employment status, mental condition, ties to the community and criminal history. In some cases, a “no contact” order will be entered as a condition of the defendant’s bond. That condition of bond will remain in place throughout the duration of the case or until further order of the Court. Should a defendant contact you after he or she has been ordered to have no contact with you as a condition of bond, call the police immediately, ask to file a police report and then notify the State’s Attorney’s Office that you have reported the incident. The State’s Attorney’s Office can review the police report to determine whether a violation has occurred and what action may be applicable.

What happens after the first court appearance?

Once bond is set, the Judge will set another court date for Preliminary Hearing or Arraignment. A preliminary hearing is a proceeding in which the judge determines whether there is enough evidence against the accused to be formally charged with the crime. An Arraignment is a proceeding in which the defendant is presented with the formal charges against him or her, typically enters a plea of not guilty and the judge may assign the case to a courtroom and schedule a first Pretrial date. Victims and witnesses are not required to be present at the bond hearing, preliminary hearing, arraignment or following pretrial stage. However, victims have the right to notice of and to attend a preliminary hearing or any post-arraignment hearing, Pretrial or post-trial court proceedings.

What happens during the Pretrial phase?

During the pretrial phase of the criminal court process there may be a series of court dates. The pretrial phase consists of the prosecution and defense exchanging discovery/evidence, pretrial motions and hearings, plea negotiations, and trial preparation. Legal issues are addressed in open court by the judge during pretrial hearings. There may be many pretrial court dates and hearings before a case is resolved. Sometimes additional investigation may occur throughout pretrial phase. There may be plea negotiations between the State and defense during the pretrial phase. If the case is not resolved with a plea, the case will most often proceeds to trial.

When will I have to appear in court?

Victims of violent crimes have a right to attend any or all post arraignment or pretrial court dates but victims and witnesses do not have to. Typically, victims and witnesses are only required to appear at a jury trial or bench trial date. In some instances, however, you may be required to appear in court for a pretrial matter. In the event that your presence is required at such a hearing, you will be contacted via mail and/or telephone by the State’s Attorney’s Office. In some instances, victims or witnesses may receive a subpoena, which is hand delivered in person by a Sheriff’s deputy or a State’s Attorney’s Office Investigator.

How will I be notified about my case?

Victims and witnesses are most often notified by mail and telephone. Victims may also register to receive notices through an automated victim notification system. Our Advocate are available to review your options regarding notifications and assist with registration. If you are required to be present in court under subpoena, a subpoena will be hand delivered by a Sheriff’s Deputy or a State’s Attorney’s Office Investigator.

What is a subpoena?

A subpoena is an order requiring the person named on it to appear in court. The subpoena will tell you when and where to appear and will have a telephone number on it should you have any questions. If your name, address or telephone number should change, notify the State’s Attorney’s Office immediately. Failure to abide by the subpoena may result in the witness or victim being found in contempt of court.

What will happen when I appear in court for trial?

A trial is held to determine if the prosecution can show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed the crimes he or she is accused of. In a jury trial, 12 citizens from the County area determine whether a defendant is found guilty or not guilty. In a bench trial, a judge will make that decision. Be aware that the defendant is entitled to be in the courtroom during the trial and will normally be represented by an attorney.

At trial the prosecution will present admissible evidence obtained through the investigation. Evidence includes victim and witness testimony. If you are required to testify, it is at this time that you will be called to the witness stand to testify about what you experienced regarding the crime. The prosecution will ask you questions first (direct examination), the defense will have an opportunity to ask you questions (cross-examination) and the prosecution has another chance to ask any additional or follow up questions (re-direct). Due to the rules of evidence, witnesses are not allowed to be present in the room during any other witnesses’ testimony. However, victims of violent crimes have the right to be present at trial on the same basis as the accused unless the victim is to testify and the court determines that the victim’s testimony would be materially affected if the victim hears other testimony at the trial.
After both the prosecution and the defense have rested, the trial will proceed to closing arguments. Closing arguments are open to the public, victims have a right to be present, and victims and witnesses may attend at their own discretion. Deliberations may take a number of hours and once concluded, the verdict will be read by the judge in the courtroom. Some victims and/or witnesses want to be present for closings arguments and/or the verdict and some do not. Whether you attend closing arguments or the verdict is completely up to you.

Please be aware there is always a chance that the trial may be continued for any number of reasons. One of the parties may be sick or unavailable. The defendant could ask for more time to find a lawyer, get a new lawyer or further prepare his or her case. Sometimes, there are so many cases on the court call that all of them are unable to be heard in one day.

What should I do if I am threatened?

Anyone who seeks to threaten or bribe you into dropping charges or into not testifying is obstructing justice and may be committing additional crimes. Immediately report any threat or bribe to the police and to the Assistant State’s Attorney or advocate assigned to your case. If you are threatened or feel unsafe while attending court, please let your advocate know and arrangements can be made for a Sheriff’s Deputy to escort you to your car.

What should I do if a defense attorney contacts me?

The defense attorney has the right in a criminal case to interview all witnesses. You have the choice whether you want to speak with him/her. If you would feel more comfortable having the Assistant State’s Attorney or advocate that is assigned to your case present at the interview, let them know that.

Will someone be in court with me?

You do not have to go through this process alone. The State’s Attorney’s Office has skilled advocates who are available to accompany you to court proceedings. The support they provide can be especially helpful at this time. An advocate can help you prepare for what to expect and deal with feelings about testifying in court or having to see the defendant in the courtroom. They can explain what will happen each step of the way, be a source of support and act as a liaison with the prosecutor. An advocate can help you navigate through this sometimes confusing and overwhelming process by:

  • Being a point of contact for information, support and assistance
  • Notifying you of your rights as a victim
  • Notifying you of all court dates
  • Providing on-site court advocacy including being available to explain court proceedings, answer questions, offer support, act as a liaison with the prosecutor, and address any safety concerns and issues
  • Coordinating various support services such as arranging for a safe place to wait before testifying or for escorts to and from court
  • Assessing needs and providing referrals for counseling, financial assistance or other support services.
  • Assisting with completing the Crime Victim Compensation Application when applicable
  • Assisting with restitution documentation
  • When applicable, providing information about Victim Impact Statements and assisting with preparing Victim Impact Statements
  • Providing information about a defendants sentence, what to expect after a defendant has been sentenced and options are available to keep you informed and safer
  • Assisting with notification of a defendants release after completing a jail or prison sentence.