Plenary Orders of Protection Can Be Extended Indefinitely

In April 2013, petitioner, Julie Ann Julie, filed a petition for an emergency order of protection against respondent, Joseph John Joe III, pursuant to section 214 of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act of 1986 (Act) (750 ILCS 60/214 (West 2012)).

Julie’s petition for an emergency order of protection alleged that Joe :

  1. Threatened her when he was mad,
  2. Installed an application on her phone to monitor her activity,
  3. Would not let her get a job,
  4. Controlled her access to money, and
  5. In April 2009, hurt her wrist and arm and forced her to have sex with him.

She also sought protection for her and Joe’s four young children. The trial court granted her request and entered an emergency order of protection.

Wife’s Plenary Order of Protection Granted

Joe and Julie left Illinois and went to Florida. Julie explained that, while in Florida, Joe frequently threatened her whenever he became angry and would say that she knew what he was capable of doing, that he killed before and had no problem killing again. Julie testified to that and to multiple acts of other violence against her. She testified that she was afraid to leave him and that if she did, he would kill her. She testified that Joe continued to threaten her life.

Joe testified that he never threatened Julie’s life. He denied confessing to anyone that he had his business partner murdered. Joe called both of his parents to testify. Both parents reported that they had never seen Joe exhibit abusive behaviors. Following closing arguments, the trial court explained its findings of fact and concluded that the allegations in the petition had been proven. The trial court entered a plenary order of protection that contained an expiration date of October 25, 2015.

Petition to Extend the Order Indefinitely

In November 2015, when the trial court conducted a hearing on the motion to extend the plenary order of protection, Joe failed to appear. The court noted that Joe had been served with a summons, found that he was in default, and extended the plenary order of protection indefinitely. Shortly thereafter, the Manatee County, Florida, sheriff’s office served Joe with a copy of the extended plenary order of protection.

Ex-Husband Seeks to Terminate the Protection Order

Purpose of the Illinois Domestic Violence Act

No Time Limit Exists for an Extension

The Act permits courts to indefinitely extend plenary orders of protection. Joe is allowed to file a motion to vacate or modify the order if he chooses. Julie however, testified that there were no material changes since the original entry of the plenary order of protection. Joe argues that the statute is confusing or contradictory because one portion of it says the duration of a plenary order of protection is not to exceed two years but another portion states that extensions may be of an indefinite duration until vacated or modified.

Joe contends that “a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence may interpret that an extension of a plenary order of protection is still a plenary order of protection, and therefore shall have a limit not to exceed two years.”

The Appellate court ruled that this is not the standard. If the fact that a reasonable person “may interpret” the statute incorrectly was all it took for a statute to be unconstitutionally vague, then almost any statute could be deemed unconstitutionally vague. The real standard is whether a reasonable person of ordinary intelligence has a reasonable opportunity to understand what the statute provides. Judged in accordance with the correct standard, the Appellate court concluded that the statute easily passes constitutional muster, and the Court affirmed the trial court’s judgment. Dale v. Bennett, 2021 IL App (4th) 200188 (March 3, 2021)


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