A Minnesota protective order (commonly referred to as a restraining order) requires an individual (such as an alleged stalker or domestic violence offender), to stay a specified distance from the petitioner, and to avoid all other forms of contact.
Although protective orders are important to protect victims of domestic violence, abuse and harassment, they have profound consequences for the alleged abuser – even if the petitioner’s claims are untrue or exaggerated.
Although a protective order is a civil, rather than criminal, matter, you could face criminal charges if you fail to respect the order. Further, there are often civil consequences as well, particularly if you live with or have children with the petitioner.
In Minnesota, there are two types of restraining orders: a protective order and a harassment restraining order. Although both have the intent of protecting the victim from the alleged abuser, their terms are very different.
Below, we’re going to break down the different types of Minnesota restraining orders, how they work, and what to do if someone files one against you.
Different Types of Orders of Protection in Minnesota
An order of protection is issued when the petitioner is under immediate danger from a specific individual. They are most often issued in domestic violence cases.
There are two types of orders of protection, temporary and full orders.
Ex Parte Temporary Orders of Protection
In Minnesota, and ex parte temporary order of protection is granted by a judge if the judge finds that there is an immediate danger of domestic violence, and that protection is needed for the petitioner (and potentially the petitioner’s minor children) immediately.
The term “ex parte” refers to the fact that the judge bases the decision solely on the information provided by the petitioner, without the alleged abuser present in court. If granted, the order of protection requires that the abuser stay a certain distance away from the petitioner’s dwelling and workplace, and refrain from making any form of contact with the petitioner.
If the petitioner lives with the abuser, the abuser will generally be forced to vacate the dwelling, or even to provide housing for the petitioner in the event that the abuser stays in the dwelling. If the abuser and petitioner have children together, the petitioner will most likely be granted custody of the children.
An ex parte order of protection can last for up to two years. Minnesota differs from other states in that both parties do not necessarily need to be present for a long-term order of protection to be issued.
You are allowed to contest an ex parte order of protection, but the hearing happens very quickly – usually within 10 days. This means that you will have very little time to build a defense, and that you must act quickly if you are hit with an order of protection.
Full Orders of Protection
If the judge does not grant the petitioner an ex parte order, a hearing for a full order of protection will be scheduled within 14 days. In this hearing, both parties have the chance to present evidence, testimony, and witnesses to prove why the order should or should not be issued.
A full order of protection also lasts for two years. However, if the abuser violates the order of protection on more than two occasions, or if there are prior orders of protection, the judge can grant a full order for up to 50 years. If after five years the order has not been violated, the abuser may ask the judge to change the order by proving a significant change in circumstances.
Minnesota’s Harassment Restraining Orders
A harassment restraining order can be issued against any harasser, regardless of the petitioner’s relationship to the harasser. This can even be based on a single incident of harassment, so long as the petition also argues that there is an immediate danger of continued harassment.
A temporary harassment restraining order remains in effect until the hearing for the final restraining order, which occurs within 20 days of a temporary order being issued.
If granted, a final restraining order lasts up to two years. However, if the petitioner has previously been issued a restraining order against the same harasser, or violates the restraining order two or more times, the harassment restraining order can be issued for up to 50 years.
What to Do If You’re Hit With a Restraining Order in Minnesota
If you are hit with a Minnesota restraining order, the most important thing is to absolutely respect the terms of the order. This may sound obvious, but it is often tempting to contact the petitioner if you do not agree with or understand the reasons for filing the order. We’ve even had cases where the petitioner attempts to contact the abuser in an attempt to coerce the abuser into violating the order. Even if they reach out to you, do not respond in any way.
Because hearings that allow you to contest a restraining order happen within a few days of the order being filed or issued, you must act immediately. Although an attorney is not required, we recommend that you seek an experienced Minnesota criminal lawyer as soon as possible to start putting together the best possible defense.
About the Author:
A former prosecutor and lifelong Minnesotan, Christian Peterson has handled hundreds of criminal cases from both sides of the aisle since he began practicing law in 2006, as well as a wide variety of family law matters. This background allows him to look at situations from all angles and anticipate which arguments the other side may use, increasing his clients’ chances of success. His work has been recognized by the American Society of Legal Advocates, the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys, and National Trial Lawyers, and he has a perfect 10/10 rating from Avvo.