What is the difference between and Order for Protection (OFP) and a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)?
The statutory requirements to obtain an OFP vs HRO determine the order for which you qualify. There are differences in the kind of relief you can receive depending on the order you obtain. The civil court filing fee is waived for Orders for Protection, but must be paid for Harassment Restraining Orders.
What is a Harassment Restraining Order?
A Harassment Restraining Order is a civil matter where a Petitioner (the party seeking the order) seeks a court order that sets conditions on a Respondent (the alleged harasser) where harassment is alleged. Although a Harassment Restraining order is not a criminal proceeding, there may be criminal penalties if the Respondent violates the conditions outlined in the HRO. The order is effective throughout the state of Minnesota.
What is harassment?
Under Minn. Stat. §609.748, harassment is defined as:
- A single incident of physical or sexual assault;
- 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 (eg: repeated phone calls, following a person, repeatedly coming to the Petitioner’s home after been told not to do so);
- Targeted residential picketing;
- A pattern of attending public events after being notified that one's presence is harassing to another.
Note: The Respondent includes any adults or juveniles alleged to have engaged in harassment or organizations alleged to have sponsored or promoted harassment.
Who Qualifies for a Harassment Order in Ramsey County?
The Petitioner qualifies if there has been a recent incident of harassment, AND:
- the Petitioner and/or Respondent lives in Ramsey County
- the incident of harassment occurred in Ramsey County
Note: The Petitioner does not have to have had a relationship with the Respondent. Orders can be obtained for adult and/or on behalf of minor children if there have been incidents of harassment to the Petitioner and/or the children.
What relief may be granted?
The HRO may order:
- Respondent not to harass Petitioner or minor child/ren;
- Respondent not to have contact, directly or indirectly, with Petitioner or the minor child/ren;
- Respondent to stay away from Petitioner’s residence/workplace/school;
- Respondent to stay away a specific distance surrounding the residence/workplace/school;
How Can a person Get a Harassment Restraining Order in Ramsey County?
The Petitioner may call the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Office at (651) 266-5130 for information or may walk in to file on a first come, first serve basis. Intake interviews are held daily during business hours and once assigned, may take 1-2 hours. A petitioner may write a statement with dates or approximate dates and a description of incidents involving harassment and come with it prepared to the intake interview or the clerk will request that the petitioner attempt to write it when s/he arrives. When the Petitioner arrives, the clerk provides the necessary forms and explain procedures related to filing a HRO. Upon request, the Petitioner’s address may remain confidential. Once the paperwork is completed, the orders and petition and affidavit are brought to the judicial officer to review while the Petitioner waits. The judicial officer will make a decision as to whether to grant or deny the order.
Is there a filing fee?
Yes, the fee amount can be found on the fees page. The fee may be waived by the judicial officer if the Petitioner is found to meet the low income standards or the judicial officer may waive the fee if the allegations rise to a certain level. If the fee is not waived, it must be paid at the time of filing the order. If the Petitioner wants to request a fee waiver, s/he must bring proof of income, government assistance or other proof (to show how they support themselves) to the interview and complete an Affidavit for Proceeding In Forma Pauperis (fee waiver). The judicial officer will review the information and grant or deny the waiver of fees.
Is there a court hearing?
Not necessarily. The court may issue a Harassment Restraining Order with or without a hearing for one to two years. However, if there is no hearing set, a request for a hearing must be made within 45 days of the issuance of the order. If a hearing is set, the parties need to come prepared to present their case to the court and bring any witnesses and documents to support their case.
How is it Served?
A sheriff will try to personally serve the Respondent at the addresses that the Petitioner provided. The Respondent will receive a copy of the Petition and Order including the details of allegations and indicating any court date and conditions of the order. The Petitioner can call the sheriff’s department to see if the order was served. If a court hearing is set the Petitioner still must appear in court, regardless of service results. If there is no court appearance set and service is unsuccessful, the Petitioner may return to the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Office to sign an Affidavit for Publication to publish notice.
How does a Respondent/s Request a Hearing if they object to the order?
The Respondent has 45 days from issuance of the order to request a hearing. The Respondent needs to call the Domestic Abuse/Harassment Office at (651) 266-5130 to make an appointment to schedule a hearing and pay the filing fee.The fee may be waived by the judicial officer if the Respondent is found to meet the low income standards. If the fee is not waived, it must be paid at the time of requesting the hearing. If the Respondent wants to request a fee waiver, s/he must bring proof of income, government assistance or other proof (to show how they support themselves) to the appointment and complete an Affidavit for Proceeding In Forma Pauperis (fee waiver). The judicial officer will review the information and grant or deny the waiver of fees. If a hearing is scheduled the Petitioner will be notified.
If a Court Hearing is set what happens in court?
The Respondent and Petitioner are ordered to appear. The parties should bring a copy of their order and any witnesses or evidence to court with them. The parties may bring an attorney if they wish. The Respondent is asked to respond to the allegations of harassment. If the Respondent requests a trial and there is not sufficient time to conduct a trial or if the Respondent was not served the judicial officer may be continue the case to another day. If a trial takes place, the judicial officer will hear the case and either issue the order or dismiss it. If the order is issued, all or some of the requested relief may be granted.
How long do Harassment Restraining Orders remain in effect?
HROs are usually issued for 1-2 years. HROs are not to exceed 2 years, except as allowed by statute.
What if the Respondent violates the Harassment Order?
The petitioner should contact law enforcement immediately and show the police a copy of the HRO.
How does a person dismiss or change a Harassment Order?
The party seeking a change to the HRO needs to file the appropriate paperwork to motion to amend or dismiss the order and pay the filing fee.
The fee may be waived by the judicial officer if the party is found to meet the low income standards. If the fee is not waived, it must be paid at the time of filing the motion. If the party wants to request a fee waiver, s/he must bring proof of income, government assistance or other proof (to show how they support themselves) and complete an Affidavit for Proceeding In Forma Pauperis (fee waiver). The judicial officer will review the information and grant or deny the waiver of fees. The motion to amend must be completed, including the specifi modification requseted and the reason why the change is requested. The order is not generally amended until the court hearing.
What if the Petitioner Moves?
The Petitioner needs to notify the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Office of any change in address and update the record with the new address. Upon request, the Petitioner’s address may remain confidential.
What if a party needs an interpreter?
The party needing the interpreter should contact the Domestic Abuse/Harassment Office at (651) 266-5130 so that the clerks may arrange for an interpreter for appointments and court appearances.
Can parties have an attorney?
The parties may bring an attorney if they wish.
Where can a person call for other information regarding harassment?
Minnesota Help is available at (651) 224-1133 in St. Paul and (612) 335-5000. Dispute Resolution Center is available at (651) 292-7791 to assist parties in community mediation - resolving non-violent disputes.
What is an Order for Protection?
An Order for Protection (OFP) is a civil court order in which a Petitioner (the person seeking the order) seeks a court order for him/herself and/or children that sets conditions on a Respondent (the person the order is against) when domestic abuse is alleged. The conditions may include, but are not limited to: no harm, no contact, exclusion from residence/employment, custody/parenting time, child support, etc (see complete list below).
Orders for Protection are, most commonly, in effect for two years.
Although an OFP is not a criminal proceeding, there may be criminal penalties if the Respondent violates the conditions outlined in the OFP.
The OFP is enforceable in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, tribal lands and U.S. territories.
What is the difference between an Order for Protection (OFP), Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) and Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (NCO)?
OFPs and HROs are orders issued by a Judge at the Petitioner’s request through the civil court process, whereas a NCO is an order issued by a Judge at the state's request through the criminal court process. Both a civil and criminal court order may be in effect at the same time.
How do I qualify for an OFP?
- Family/Household Member
- Incident/s of Domestic Abuse
How do I qualify for and HRO?
- No relationship requirement
- Repeated incidents of harassment or single incident of sexual or physical assault
What Conditions may be included for an OFP?
- No harm
- No contact
- Exclusion from residence/employment
- Custody/Parenting Time
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance
What Conditions may be included for an HRO?
- No harassment
- No contact
- Stay away from residence/employment
How much does an OFP cost?
What is Domestic Abuse?
According to Minnesota Statute 518B.01, domestic abuse (if committed against a family or household member by a family or household member [outlined below]) is defined as (one or more of the following):
- physical harm, bodily injury, or assault
- the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm
- terroristic threats
- acts of criminal sexual conduct
- interference with an emergency call
Who qualifies as a "family or household member" as defined by the statute?
One or more of the following:
- Spouse or former spouse
- Live or have lived together
- Child in common (born or in utero)
- Related by blood
- Parents and children
- Significant romantic or sexual relationship
Where should I file my Order for Protection?
An application for relief may be filed in the court having jurisdiction. To determine if Ramsey County has jurisdiction, one or more of the following must apply:
- You or the Respondent live in Ramsey county
- There is a pending or completed family court action in Ramsey County involving the you and the Respondent
- The alleged abuse occurred in Ramsey County
- To file in Ramsey County, contact the Domestic Abuse/Harassment office at (651) 266-5130.
- What is the Process to file an OFP in Ramsey County?
- Arrive as a walkin, it is suggested to come as close to 8am as possible
- Check-in at front desk and fill out initial paperwork
- Turn-in paperwork to clerk at front desk
- A clerk will assist in drafting a Petition/Affidavit and proposed Order and set a court date if requested/required
- A clerk will bring the paperwork to be reviewed by the Judge
- The clerk will give you the results of decision
- The clerk will make you copies and provide information
- The clerk will forward copies to the appropriate sheriff’s department for service
What should I bring to file?
The name, addresses and photo (if available) for the Respondent
A written statement with dates (or approximate dates/frequency) and a description of incidents involving domestic abuse. Include:
- What is your relationship to the respondent?
- Start with the most recent incident and work your way back in time writing the date/approximate date that respondent did any of the following to you or your children (indicate which child)*: Physically abused you and/or your children (hitting, punching, choking, sexual abuse, etc), Threatened to physically abuse you or your children, Interfered with an emergency call, Did something to make you afraid s/he would physically harm you (restraining, raising a fist to you, etc).
- Indicate if the police were involved. Was the respondent arrested? Charged? Were you injured? Did you receive medical attention? Where?
- Write a short history statement indicating how long the abuse has been going on and give brief examples of past abuse.
*It will save you time, if you come with the statement prepared. If not, it will need to be written at the time of your interview
Complete addresses for locations you would like protected by your order (usually restricted to you or your children's residence, workplace, school, daycare)
Can I file an Order for Protection for a minor/s?
Parent/s or guardians may request an order on behalf of their child/ren if there have been incidents of domestic abuse upon them.
Minors, age 16 or older, may request an order on their own behalf (without needing a parent or guardian to petition on their behalf) against a spouse, former spouse, or a person whom the minor has a child in common, if the court finds the minor is mature, has good judgment and the order is in the minor’s best interest.
A reputable adult age 25 or older may file on behalf of minor family or household member, if the court finds that it is in the best interests of the minor.
How do I file against more than one person?
If you wish to file against more than one person, you will need to have a separate appointment and petition for each Respondent.
What relief may be granted?
The court may provide relief as follows (some conditions may require a hearing):
- Restrain the Respondent from committing acts of domestic abuse;
- Order Respondent to have no contact with Petitioner;
- Exclude the Respondent from Petitioner’s residence (or residence they share);
- Exclude the Respondent a reasonable area surrounding residence;
- Award temporary custody or establish temporary parenting time;
- Establish temporary support for minor children or a spouse;
- Order treatment or counseling;
- Award temporary use and possession of property
- Exclude the Respondent from Petitioner’s place of employment
- Continue insurance coverage without changes
Is a hearing required to obtain an Order for Protection?
In some cases. In the following circumstances, there is a hearing:
- The petitioner may request a hearing
- A hearing may be required if you request certain relief
- Child support/spousal maintenance
- Treatment or counseling
- Distance Provision
- The Judge may order there to be a court hearing
- The respondent may request a hearing within 5 days of service
May I be represented by an attorney?
You may choose to retain an attorney to represent you or you may represent yourself (pro se), however attorneys (i.e. public defenders) are not appointed to represent you in Domestic Abuse/Harassment cases.
How do I request a continuance for my court hearing?
You must submit any request and supporting documentation to continue the matter in writing (in person, by mail or fax) as soon as possible. The request will be forwarded to the Judicial Officer and the response, if any, will be provided to you.
How do I request for an interpreter?
You may contact the Domestic Abuse/Harassment Office at (651) 266-5130 to order an interpreter for an appointment or court appearance in an Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order matter. The Domestic Abuse/Harassment office has Spanish and Hmong speaking staff usually available to assist in the filing of an order.
Where can I obtain subpoenas?
You may contact the Domestic Abuse/Harassment Office at (651) 266-5130 to request subpoenas for a Domestic Abuse/Harassment hearing.
What Happens at Court?
- The Respondent and Petitioner are ordered to appear
- The parties should bring a copy of their order and any witnesses or evidence to court with them
- The parties may be represented by an attorney if they wish to hire one on their own
- The Judicial Officer may ask the Petitioner if s/he still wants the Order
- The Judicial Officer may ask the Respondent how they would like to respond to the issuance of an Order for Protection
- If the Respondent requests an evidentiary hearing (trial) and there is not sufficient time to conduct a trial or if the Respondent was not served with enough notice, the judicial officer may continue the case to another date.
- If there is a trial, the judicial officer will hear the case and either issue an order or dismiss it. If the order is issued, all or some of the requested relief may be granted.
Is there a filing fee to file for an Order for Protection?
There is no fee to file an Order for Protection.
How does the Respondent find out about the Order?
The court clerk will forward a copy of the ExParte OFP/Petition and Affidavit to be personally served on the Respondent to the appropriate sheriff’s department, provided the Petitioner gives the court an address where the Respondent may be served.
If the attempts to personally serve are unsuccessful, service by alternate means or publication will need to be sought in order to keep the Order in effect and fulfill the service requirement.
How does a Respondent request a hearing?
When the Respondent is served with the order without a hearing, a Request for Hearing form is attached. The Respondent may request a hearing by completing and submitting this form to the court within 5 days of receiving the order. In the alternative, the Respondent may call the Domestic Abuse/Harassment office to set up a hearing by phone at (651) 266-5130.
How long is the Order in effect?
Orders for Protection are usually issued for two years.
What if I move?
The party should submit a Notice of Change of Address form to the Domestic Abuse/Harassment office with any change in address and if the petitioner has a new address, the court clerks will send a copy of the order to the new police department and update the new address in the file. By request, the petitioner's address may remain confidential.
How does a person extend, change or dismiss an OFP?
The party seeking a change to the OFP needs to file the appropriate paperwork with the domestic abuse office if s/he wishes to motion to extend, amend or dismiss the order.
Court clerks will assist the party in filing the motion to modify which provides space to include what they request and why. If the motion requires an Order to Appear, a judicial officer needs to approve the order to have a hearing and a date will be set in which both parties should appear in court.
In most cases, the motion does not modify the order in any way until the court hearing.
For an extension of an order that is currently in effect, the Petitioner should file the application to extend to Order for Protection about one or two weeks before the order expires. The statute allows the order to be extended if the:
Affidavit for Proceeding In Forma Pauperis
- Respondent violated a prior or existing Order for Protection;
- Petitioner is in reasonable fear of physical harm from the respondent;
- Respondent has engaged in acts of harassment or stalking; or
- Respondent is incarcerated and about to be released, or has recently been released from incarceration.
- What should I do if the Respondent violates the order?
- Contact law enforcement to report the violation.