From the Desk of Alexandra M. Reynolds
There are two types of protective orders available in Minnesota, Order for Protection (OFP) and Harassment Restraining Order (HRO). The two differ significantly in who they can protect, and how you qualify to get one.
An OFP is designed to protect people who are experiencing domestic abuse. Domestic violence is defined as:
- physical harm, bodily injury, assault between family or household members;
- fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, which includes threats of physical harm or assault;
- terrorist threats, for example threats to commit a crime of violence;
- criminal sexual conduct committed against a family or household member by another family or household member; or
- interference with an emergency call (911). Minn. Stat. §518b,01(2)
An HRO can be issued no matter what the relationship between the parties. Being a family or household member is not required per the statute. Harassment is defined as:
- repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words or gestures that have a negative effect on your safety, security or privacy;
- targeted residential picketing; or
- a pattern of attending public events after being put on notice that the person’s presence at the event is harassing to another. Minn. Stat. §609.748(4)
The first step to obtaining an OFP or HRO is to fill out the necessary paperwork and file them with the court. The forms are available online, or oftentimes the clerk of court can assist you in obtaining the necessary paperwork. There is no filing fee for an OFP. A minor may have a parent, step-parent, guardian or third party file on their behalf.
After you file the paperwork, a judge will review your petition for the protective order and will either deny or grant the ex parte (temporary, issued by a judge hearing only one party to the conflict) order. Orders for protection may be issued for one year and the petitioner has the opportunity to extend it, if certain circumstances occur throughout the duration of the Order. An HRO
is typically issued for 2 years. At this time, your Order will have to be personally served upon the opposing party. Service of a protective order is done by the sheriff or another law enforcement entity. It is important to note, that the Order is not in effect until service has been completed.
There may be a hearing for either of the two Orders. An OFP hearing may occur if the Respondent requests a hearing, if the Petitioner request the hearing or if the Court does not grant the Ex Parte Order. For an HRO, if the Petitioner wants to request a hearing it must be done within 20 days of service of the petition and if the Respondent (the party upon whom the petition was served) wishes to request a hearing, he/she must do it within 45 days of issuance of the Order. At a hearing for either Order, both sides may present evidence, give testimony, and witnesses to prove their case. Oftentimes one or both of the parties are represented by an attorney.
It is not necessary to have representation in these proceedings. However, depending on the complexity of your case, it may be beneficial to seek legal counsel.