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Know the Laws: Minnesota

UPDATED August 15, 2016

Orders for Protection

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An order for protection is a civil order that provides protection from harm by a family or household member.

After the hearing

back to topWhat will happen to the abuser's firearms if the judge includes a firearm restriction in my order for protection?

If the judge orders that the abuser's firearms be removed for the reasons explained in How can an order for protection help me?, there are two ways that the firearms can be taken away.  First, if the judge believes that there is evidence that the abuser poses an immediate risk of causing you or another person substantial bodily harm, the judge must order the local law enforcement agency take immediate possession of all firearms in the abuser's possession.*  If the judge does not believe there is an immediate risk, the abuser will have three business days to transfer the firearms to a federally licensed firearms dealer, a law enforcement agency, or a third party who may lawfully receive them (as long as the third party does not live with the abuser).**  The third party may be held criminally and civilly responsible if the abuser is able to access the firearm while it is in the custody of the third party.  Then, the abuser must file proof of the transfer with the court within two business days of the transfer.***

* Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(i)
** Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(g)
*** Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(h)

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back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some ideas for things that you may want to do when leaving court – you will have to decide which ones work for you:

  • Make several copies of the order for protection as soon as possible.
  • Keep a copy of the order with you at all times.
  • Leave copies of the order at your work place, at your home, at the children’s school or daycare, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, and so on.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • One week after court, call your local law enforcement offices to make sure they have received copies of the order for protection.  If they have not, you may want to ask if you can deliver a copy to them.
  • Take steps to safety plan, including possibly changing your locks and your phone number.
Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order. People can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents, when preparing to leave an abusive relationship, and when they are at home, work, and school.  Many batterers obey orders for protection, but some do not.  It is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For more information please visit the Staying Safe page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

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back to topI was not granted an order for protection. What are my options?

If you are not granted an order for protection, there are still some things you can do to try to stay safe. It might be a good idea to contact one of the domestic violence resource centers in your area to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and help connect you with the resources you need.  For safety planning help, ideas, and information, go to our Staying Safe page. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please go to our MN State and Local Programs page.

If you were not granted an order for protection because your relationship with the abuser does not qualify as a "family or household member,” you may be able to seek protection through a harassment restraining order (HRO).

You may also reapply for an order for protection if a new incident of domestic abuse occurs after you are denied the order.

If you believe the judge made an error of law, you can talk to someone at a domestic violence organization or a lawyer about the possibility of filing an appeal. Generally, appeals are complicated and you will most likely need the help of a lawyer.

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the order?

If the abuser violates the order, you can call the police, even if you think it is a minor violation.  It can be a crime and contempt of court if the abuser violates the order in any way.  A judge can punish someone for being in contempt of court.  An abuser can be arrested, fined, jailed and ordered to participate in counseling or other appropriate programs.*  You may file civil contempt charges against the abuser for violating the OFP, even if the police don’t make an arrest or file criminal charges. Civil charges may be filed in the same court that issued your order.

It is generally a good idea to write down the name of the responding officer(s) and their badge number in case you want to follow up on your case.  It is also important to have a copy of the order with you at all times.

Make sure a police report is filled out, even if no arrest is made. If you have legal documentation of all violations of the order, it may help you have the order extended or modified.

* MN Code § 518B.01(14)

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back to topHow can my order be changed, extended or dismissed?

The court may extend the terms of an existing order (or, if an order is no longer in effect, grant a new order) upon a showing that:

  • the respondent/abuser has violated a prior or existing order for protection;
  • you are in fear of physical harm from the respondent/abuser;
  • the respondent/abuser has stalked you; or
  • the respondent is incarcerated and about to be released, or has recently been released from incarceration.*

You do not need to show that you are in danger of immediate physical harm to get your order extended (or to get a subsequent order).*  Generally, the judge can grant this extension of the order ex parte, without prior notice to the abuser and without a hearing where the abuser is present.  A hearing will be held, however, if the judge decides not to grant you the ex parte extension or if the abuser requests a hearing (after the ex parte extension is granted).**

Your order for protection can last for up to 50 years, if the court finds:

  • the respondent/abuser has violated a prior or existing order for protection on two or more occasions; or
  • you have had two or more orders for protection in effect against the same respondent/abuser.***

To modify or vacate an order, you may apply to the court to request this.  Note: If you are granted an order up to 50 years, the abuser can request to have the order vacated or modified after the order has been in effect for at least five years and assuming the respondent has not violated the order during that time.  Then you would be notified of this request and the judge would set a hearing date.  The respondent/abuser has the burden of proving that there has been a substantial change in circumstances and that the reasons that you needed the order for protection no longer apply and are unlikely to occur again. If the court believes the abuser, the judge can dismiss or modify the order.  If the judge does not believe the abuser, the abuser must wait another five years before s/he can apply again to modify or dismiss the order.****  

* MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(b)
** MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(a)
*** MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(c)
**** MN Code § 518B.01(11)

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back to topCan I get my order for protection from Minnesota enforced in another state?

Your order for protection is good everywhere in the state of Minnesota. Additionally, the federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Please see our Moving to Another State with a Protection Order page for more information. If you are moving to a new state, you may also want to call the National Center on Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

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back to topCan my employer discipline or fire me for taking time off work to file for an order for protection?

No.  Under Minnesota state law, an employer cannot fire, discipline, threaten, penalize, or otherwise discriminate against an employee because s/he took a reasonable amount of time off work to seek protection an order for protection for domestic abuse.*

If you do need to take time off work to protect yourself or your children from domestic abuse, it is your responsibility to give your employer 48 hours' advance notice, unless you or your child are in immediate danger or unless giving notice is impractical.  Your employer can ask for proof of why you are absent but s/he has to keep all information confidential.*

If your employer does violate this law, s/he can be guilty of a crime.  You also have the option of bringing a civil suit for damages against your employer.**

* MN Code § 518B.01(23)(a)
** MN Code § 518B.01(23)(b),(c)

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