Order for Protection
An order for protection (OFP) is a court order forbidding a specific family or household member from engaging in having contact with the person requesting the order. This may be requested when the danger of domestic abuse is immediate and present.
Any family or household member, guardian or household member, or reputable adult age 25 or older on behalf of a minor family or household member many seek an OFP. An OFP may be filed in the county having jurisdiction over a dissolution action, in the county of residence of either party, the county where completed or pending family court proceedings were brought, or in the county where alleged domestic abuse occurred.
The petitioner need not be a resident of Minnesota to file a petition with a Minnesota court. The filing fee is waived for petitioners seeking an OFP.
In most cases, the petitioner first obtains a temporary order (also called an “ex parte” OFP) which is effective until a court hearing can be held. At the hearing, both parties have the opportunity to be heard, and the court determines if the temporary order should be extended for up to one year. A petitioner who has obtained an OFP may petition the court to extend the order up to 50 years upon showing that:
- The respondent has violated a prior or existing order for protection on two or more occasions;
- The petitioner has held two or more orders for protection in effect against the same respondent.
In the application for the OFP, the petitioner can request that the court grant certain orders, including:
- Restrain the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse;
- Exclude the abusing party from the dwelling which the parties share or from the residence of the petitioner;
- Exclude the abusing party from a reasonable area surrounding the petitioner’s residence or place or employment;
- Award temporary custody or establish temporary parenting time with regard to minor children of the parties on a basis which gives primary consideration to the safety of the victim and the children;
- Award temporary child and spousal support;
- Temporary possession of property;
- No contact by telephone, mail, email, or other electronic means;
- Award possession of pets and companion animals, and restrain abusing party from harming them.
Harassment Restraining Orders
Harassment includes the following:
- a single incident of physical or sexual assault or repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between the actor and the intended target;
- targeted residential picketing; and
- a pattern of attending public events after being notified that the actor’s presence at the event is harassing to another.
Mutual Orders (OFPs or HROs)
Some courts will grant an OFP or HRO to both parties to the proceeding, effectively barring either from contacting the other. This is called a mutual order, and sometimes seems the most convenient resolution for a judge who would rather not sort out conflicting stories, or for the victim who does not want the hassle of a hearing.
It is never a good idea for anyone to voluntarily allow an order for protection or harassment restraining order to be placed against him or her. There is a stigma attached to having such an order in place, and the existence of an OFP or HRO may negatively affect employment or housing. In addition, the existence of an OFP or HRO subjects the person against whom the order is placed to being charged with a violation of the order. A petitioner should demand that the respondent seeking the mutual order be required to file a petition for the order and prove a need for an OFP or HRO just as the victim has to prove the need for one.
Violation of an OFP or HRO
A copy of the order is sent by the court to remain on file with local law enforcement. It is also important for petitioners to keep a copy of the order with them in case of the need for police intervention. The law states that the police shall arrest the respondent who is violating the order. In such a case, the party violating the restraining order may face a misdemeanor charge or be held in contempt of court for violating the court order. The victim may request a hearing on the contempt of court issue by filing an affidavit with the court.
Domestic Abuse No Contact Orders
A Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO) can be issued in a criminal proceeding related to domestic abuse, harassment, or stalking and for violations of an order for protection. A DANCO may be issued as a pretrial order before final disposition of the underlying criminal case or as a post-conviction probationary order.
A domestic abuse no contact order is independent of any condition of pretrial release or probation imposed on the defendant. A peace officer has the ability to make a warrantless arrest for violations of a DANCO even if the violation did not take place in the presence of the officer.