When a person is being harassed, intimidated, or their privacy violated one of the first questions is oftentimes: “what can I do to stop this from happening?” Thankfully, the Minnesota Legislature has provided a recourse through seeking a harassment restraining order from the court as laid out in Minnesota Statute 609.748. If done correctly this process can provide both protection and a legal recourse.
WHO CAN APPLY?
Anyone can petition the court for a harassment restraining order but ultimately it will be up to the court if this order is granted. The person requesting the order is the “petitioner” while the person responding to the petition is the “respondent.” In order for the court to grant this order the petitioner will have to show one of two things: 1) that the petitioner is in “immediate and present danger of harassment;” or 2) that the petitioner has been harassed by the respondent and that this harassment will likely continue or occur again. Harassment is also defined by the legislature in Minnesota Statute § 609.748. Domestic abuse no contact orders (DANCO’s) are different, and follow a different process, then harassment restraining orders.
HOW TO APPLY?
When applying for a harassment restraining order there are usually two steps: the initial request for a temporary restraining order and then the hearing where the judge decides if they wish to extend the restraining order. Generally, the process is started when the petitioner files an affidavit and petition for the restraining order with the court and serves the same on the respondent through the county sheriff. Often times petitioners also files exhibits attempting to prove the conduct which is cited to in the petitioner’s affidavit/petition.
Once these documents are filed the judge will either: 1) dismiss the petition; 2) grant a temporary restraining order and schedule a hearing where both the petitioner and respondent are present; or 3) not grant the temporary restraining order and schedule a hearing.
At the hearing both the petitioner and respondent are able to present their respective cases. Witnesses may be called and evidence and testimony may be placed on the record. Ultimately the court will decide whether to dismiss or grant the restraining order for no longer than two (2) years.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES?
The consequences associated with a harassment restraining order often times go beyond the actual order. The order will likely prohibit contact between the respondent and the petitioner, including third party contact, for up to two years. This may be altered as the court deems necessary. Violation of this order will most likely result in criminal charges. In addition, restraining orders may affect a person’s job, ability to rent, and other collateral consequences. Finally, restraining orders are likely to remain on a persons civil record causing other potential issues.
In summary, petitioning the court for a harassment restraining order can be a complicated and tedious process. For these reasons it is recommended to contact an attorney prior to petitioning the court. The attorneys at Thooft Law are well versed in restraining orders and offer free consultations. Further, an instruction guide from the court is available HERE.