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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:
- The Respondent lives in Ramsey County
- The incident of harassment occurred in Ramsey County
- There has been a recent incident of harassment
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 should call the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Office at 651-266-5130 to make an appointment to file. Intake interviews are held daily during business hours and 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 for the appointment. When the Petitioner comes for the appointment, the intake worker will provide clerical assistance with the necessary forms and explain procedures related to filing a HRO. 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?
There is a filing fee of $320.00 (effective 7/1/09). 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 a $320.00 (effective 7/1/09) 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. There is a $100.00 (effective 7/1/09) fee to file a motion to change the order. 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) to the appointment and complete a Supplemental In Forma Pauperis (fee waiver). The judicial officer will review the information and grant or deny the waiver of fees. Office staff will assist the party in completing the motion to amend which includes reasons why the change is requested. If the motion is approved to have a hearing, a date will be set and both parties should appear in court. The judicial officer will determine whether to grant the request. The order is not amended until the court hearing unless it is an emergency change in the order.
What if the Petitioner Moves?
The Petitioner needs to notify the Domestic Abuse and Harassment Office of any change in address and note the new address in the file. The Petitioner’s address can 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.