Is someone’s behavior making you feel unsafe? Does it make you feel violated or threatened? You may want to look into obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO). Although they do not vary much, state laws are very clear in defining what constitutes as harassment. This blog uses Minnesota’s application but know that your situation would be best evaluated under your state law.
What is Harassment?
Regardless of the relationship between the parties, Minn. Stat. § 609.748 states:
(a) “Harassment” includes:
(1) a single incident of physical or sexual assault, a single incident of stalking/harassment under § 609.749, subdivision 2, clause (8), a single incident of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images under § 617.261, 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;
(2) targeted residential picketing; and
(3) a pattern of attending public events after being notified that the actor’s presence at the event is harassing to another.
(b) “Respondent” includes any adults or juveniles alleged to have engaged in harassment or organizations alleged to have sponsored or promoted harassment.
(c) “Targeted residential picketing” includes the following acts when committed on more than one occasion:
(1) marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons directed solely at a particular residential building in a manner that adversely affects the safety, security, or privacy of an occupant of the building; or
(2) marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons which prevents an occupant of a residential building from gaining access to or exiting from the property on which the residential building is located.
Who Can Seek a Harassment Restraining Order?
If any of your interactions falls within any of the statutory guidelines above, you can seek an HRO through the District Court. If the person receiving the harassment is a minor, then a parent or guardian can seek a restraining order from the district court on behalf of the minor. If more than one person is harassing you, then you must file a separate petition for each person. The petition can be filed where you live, where the harassment occurred, or where the person allegedly doing the harassment lives.
The Court May Grant a Temporary Restraining Order
The court may issue a temporary restraining order, also known as an ex parte, requiring the respondent to cease or avoid the harassment and/or to have no contact with the other person.
An ex parte temporary restraining order may be granted if the court finds reasonable grounds to believe that the respondent has engaged in harassment. This is when the harassment poses an immediate and present danger. Upon a judge’s signature, the temporary HRO becomes effective and is effective until a hearing is held. This ex parte temporary restraining order is meant to secure the safety of the harassed.
Why Do I Need a Lawyer?
While anyone can file a petition for a restraining order, an attorney experienced in Harassment Restraining Orders can better present your case to the judge. This is especially important because the judge will base his decision on the evidence before him. An experienced attorney will help you obtain as much of the harassment evidence as you can.
If you are experiencing harassment and would like vigorous representation, contact Thooft Law at 651-485-1254 or [email protected] Attorney Derek Thooft has experience winning HRO cases on behalf of many clients and would be a valuable advocate to have in your corner.