What You Need to Know About Harassment Restraining Orders in Minnesota

by Hannah El-Bashir on Jun. 24, 2020

 General Practice Divorce & Family Law  Family Law 

Summary: This article is a helpful summary of what you need to know when it comes to harassment restraining orders in the state of Minnesota including: how to defend against a harassment restraining order, what are the collateral consequences of a harassment restraining order, and who can get a harassment restraining order.

Today we received notice that—after a hard fought trial—we had succeeded in defending our client against a harassment restraining order; the court order denied the harassment restraining order and agreed with our arguments that our client had not harassed the other party. We were so happy for our client, who now will not have to suffer the negative collateral consequences associated with having a harassment restraining order on one’s record, including but not limited to: the risk of being forced to leave a dwelling which you share with the protected party, losing rights that were previously enjoyed, and the risk of being charged with a crime if the other party alleges that the harassment restraining order has been violated.

So what is a harassment restraining order?

A harassment restraining order is an order prohibiting the offending party from contacting the victim. If the order is violated, the offender may be criminally charged with violation of a harassment restraining order.

A Harassment restraining order (HRO) may be obtained because of assault, stalking, or repeatedly pursuing or badgering. Under Minnesota statute 609.748, harassment includes even a single incident of physical or sexual assault, stalking, non-consensual dissemination of private sexual images, 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.” An HRO can also be obtained due to targeted residential picketing or attending a public event when the offender has been notified his or her presence is harassing to someone else.

Who can obtain a harassment restraining order?

  Unlike a domestic violence order for protection (OFP), an HRO can be brought against “any adults or juveniles” who have engaged in harassing conduct; there is no requirement that the parties have any relationship (ex. Housemate or relative) to one another.

What to know if you receive harassment restraining order papers?

If you are the alleged harasser, the main thing to know is that you will need to act quickly; in cases where the court has issued an ex parte (without an appearance) harassment restraining order, you only have a limited number of days to respond or you will give up your right to contest harassment. It is always better to request a hearing, even if you think that you will not win, because you may be able to settle at the hearing and receive better terms on the harassment restraining order.

What to know if you are the party seeking a harassment restraining order?

Harassment restraining orders can be great protection for those who need it because it can provide you with a means to prohibit someone from bothering or scaring you and you can enforce your rights by calling the police. Additionally, if the offender continues to harass you, he or she could be charged with a crime and put in jail.

You can go to the courthouse, or go to the Minnesota Judicial Branch website and find forms to fill out requesting a harassment restraining order. The forms are simple and you can find directions on how to fill them out. You will have a better chance of succeeding if you hire an attorney, and hire him or her early on so he or she can review the paperwork you submit.

The paperwork you will fill out will include a sworn affidavit in which you record the details of the harassment and why the applicant believes the HRO is necessary.  The judge will then examine the paperwork you file and can decide to grant an HRO or to grant you a hearing to prove that you need the HRO. 

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