What happens if the abuser violates the order?
In addition to being held in contempt of court, violating a temporary or final harassment restraining order can be a misdemeanor, a gross misdemeanor, or a felony, depending on the circumstances.1 For the violation to be a gross misdemeanor, the abuser would have to commit the violation within ten years of a prior conviction for a “qualified domestic violence-related crime.”2 To read the list of crimes that are considered “qualified domestic violence-related offenses,” including juvenile offenses, see MN Code § 609.02(16).
The abuser may be guilty of a felony for violating a harassment restraining order if s/he violates the order under any of the following circumstances:
- within ten years of two or more convictions for qualified domestic violence-related offenses, including juvenile offenses;
- the violation is because of your actual or perceived race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, disability, age, or national origin as defined in MN Code § 363A.03;
- by falsely impersonating another person;
- while possessing a dangerous weapon;
- with the goal of influencing a juror or tampering with a judicial proceeding or retaliating against a judicial officer, prosecutor, defense attorney, or officer of the court because of the person’s performance of official duties in connection with a judicial proceeding; or
- against a victim who is under the age of 18 and the abuser is at least 36 months older than the victim.3
1 MN Code § 609.748(6)(b), (6)(c), (6)(d), (6)(h)
2 MN Code § 609.748(6)(c)
3 MN Code § 609.748(d)
What is the punishment for violating the order?
In Minnesota, if a person is guilty of a misdemeanor violation, s/he could be imprisoned for up to 90 days, fined up to $1,000, or both.1
If s/he is found guilty of a gross misdemeanor violation, s/he could be imprisoned for up to one year, fined up to $3,000, or both.2
If the abuser is found guilty of a felony violation, s/he could be imprisoned for more than one year, fined up to $10,000, or both.3 The length of possible jail time and the amount of the potential fine will depend on many factors and will ultimately be determined by the judge. See What happens if the abuser violates the order? for more information about which violations are considered misdemeanors, gross misdemeanors, or felonies.
1 MN Code § 609.02(3)
2 MN Code §§ 609.0341(1); 609.02(4)
3 MN Code § 609.02(2); see MN Code §§ 609.0341(1); 518B.01(14)(d)
Who can file a contempt of court petition to report a violation to the judge?
In addition to reporting a violation to the law enforcement, another way to report a violation is by filing a petition to hold the abuser in contempt of court in the court that issued the harassment restraining order.1 The following people can file a petition for contempt:
- you (the harassment victim);
- a peace officer; or
- an “interested party” who is chosen by the judge.
The judge will then issue an order requiring the abuser to appear in court within 14 days to explain why s/he should not be held in contempt of court. The judge can also refer the violations to the appropriate prosecuting authority.2
1 MN Code § 609.748(6)(h)
2 MN Code § 609.748(6)(i)