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Legal Information: Minnesota

Minnesota Restraining Orders

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Restraining Orders

Orders for Protection

Basic information

What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Minnesota?

This section defines domestic violence for the purposes of getting an order for protection. In Minnesota, “domestic abuse” is defined as:

  • Physical harm, bodily injury, assault (such as hitting, kicking, slapping, pushing, stabbing, choking, burning) between family or household members;
  • Making a family or household member afraid of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault, which includes threats of physical harm or assault;
  • Terrorist threats, such as threats to commit a crime of violence, bomb threats or brandishing (showing) a firearm;
  • Criminal sexual conduct committed against a family or household member by another family or household member (such as forced intercourse or forced sexual contact; or intercourse or any other form of sexual contact with a minor); or
  • Interference with an emergency call, which includes preventing someone from calling 911 or other emergency phone numbers or interrupting/ending an emergency call.1

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(2)

What types of orders for protection are available? How long do they last?

There are two types of orders for protection: ex parte orders and full orders.  However, unlike most other states, Minnesota does not necessarily require that a hearing be held with both parties present before issuing a long-term order.  Minnesota law allows a judge to issue a long-term order on your first court date and then it is up to the respondent/abuser to fill out paperwork to request a hearing to object to the order.

When you go to court to file for an order for protection, a judge will give you an ex parte temporary order of protection if s/he finds that there is an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse and you need immediate protection.1  “Ex parte” means that the abuser is not notified beforehand or present in court - the judge will make this decision based only on the information you provide.  An ex parte order will be effective for a fixed period set by the court and can generally last for up to two years or until modified or vacated by the judge after a hearing.2 Once you’ve been granted an ex parte order, you do not need to return to court for a full hearing unless:

  1. You request a hearing to ask the judge for additional protection than what can be granted with an ex parte order;
  2. The judge decides not to grant you all of the protection that you asked for in the ex parte order; or
  3. The abuser requests a hearing once s/he is served with your ex parte order. 

Note: If a hearing is ordered based on reasons #1 or #2, above, the hearing will be held within 7 days.  If the hearing is ordered based on reason #3, above, it will be held within 10 days of when the court receives his/her request (although either side may request a continuance in any of the circumstances).  The court will notify you of the hearing by mail3 and you would need to go to the hearing in order to present evidence as to why the order should continue.  If the judge does not grant you an ex parte order, the hearing for a full order for protection will be scheduled within 14 days.4 

If there is a court hearing for a full order for protection, both parties (you and the abuser) should have a chance to present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc. to prove why the order should/should not be issued. The order can last for up to two years, but you may petition to have it extended if you need further protection once the order expires.5

If the abuser has violated a prior or existing order for protection on two or more occasions, or if you have been granted two or more orders for protection against the abuser, the judge can grant a full order for up to 50 years.6  If after five years there have been no violations of the order, the abuser may ask the judge to modify (change) the order by proving there has been a significant change in circumstances.7

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)(a)
2 Minn. Stat. §§ 518B.01(7)(c); 518B.01(6)(b)
3 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(5)(b)-(e)
4 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(5)(a)
5 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)
6 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(a)
7 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(11)(b)

 

What protections can I get in an order for protection?

You can be granted the following protections in an ex parte order of protection:

  • Ordering the abuser not to abuse you or your minor children;
  • Ordering the abuser to be removed from the home that you share and that s/he stay away from a reasonable area surrounding the shared home or your own home;Order the abuser to stay away from your place of work;
  • Ordering the abuser not to contact you, either in person, by telephone, mail, email or other electronic devices, or through another person (a “third party”);
  • Ordering that any insurance coverage currently available to you remain unchanged (in other words, if you get health insurance through the abuser’s work, s/he won’t be able to remove you from the insurance plan);
  • Giving either of you possession or control of a pet or companion animal owned, possessed, or kept by you, the abuser or a child of you or the abuser and ordering the abuser to not physically abuse the animal.1

If you get an order for protection that is issued after the respondent/abuser is given notice and the chance to appear in court at a hearing, you can get the following protections as part of a full order of protection:

  • Ordering all of the ex parte protections listed above;
  • Awarding you temporary custody of your children and/or establishing temporary parenting time giving primary consideration to the safety of you and your children; Note: The judge can restrict parenting time as to the time, place, duration, or supervision, or deny parenting time completely if necessary to protect the safety of you and your children;
  • Establish temporary child support and/or spousal support;
  • Provide counseling or other social services for you and the respondent (if you are married or if you have minor children together);
  • Order the abuser to participate in treatment or counseling services;
  • Award you temporary use and possession of property that you share with the abuser, such as a car;
  • Order neither party to sell, damage or get rid of property, or to use it as the basis for a loan;
  • Order the abuser to pay restitution to you (i.e., to compensate you for your medical bills and/or lost income as a result of the abuse);
  • Order the abuser to not possess firearms for the time that the order is in effect; Note: The judge is supposed to include this prohibition against possessing firearms in all situations where the order:
    • instructs the abuser from harassing, stalking, or threatening you, or from engaging in other conduct that would place you in reasonable fear of bodily injury; and
    • includes a finding (the judge’s determination) that the abuser represents a credible threat to your physical safety or prohibits the abuser party from using, attempting to use, or threatening to use physical force against you; and
  • Order any other relief that is necessary to protect you and your children, including ordering the sheriff or other law enforcement to act in a certain way (for example, to accompany you to the home to get your belongings).2

Whether or not a judge orders any, or all of the above, depends on the facts of your case. To read about what will happen to the firearms if the abuser is prohibited from possessing them, go to What will happen to the abuser’s firearms if the judge includes a firearm restriction in my order for protection?

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(7)(a)
2 Minn. Stat.

§ 518B.01(6)(a),(g)

In which county can I file for an order for protection?

You can file for an order of protection in any county where either you or the abuser lives, where the abuse happened, or where there is/was a family court proceeding involving you and the abuser or a child you have with the abuser (for example, a custody/visitation case).1

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(3)

If the abuser lives in a different state, can I still get an order against him/her?

When you and the abuser live in different states, the judge may not have “personal jurisdiction” (power) over an out-of-state abuser. This means that the court may not be able to grant an order against him/her.

There are a few ways that a court can have personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state abuser:

  1. The abuser has a substantial connection to your state. Perhaps the abuser regularly travels to your state to visit you, for business, to see extended family, or the abuser lived in your state and recently fled.
  2. One of the acts of abuse “happened” in your state. Perhaps the abuser sends you threatening texts or harassing phone calls from another state but you read the messages or answer the calls while you are in your state. The judge could decide that the abuse “happened” to you while you were in your state. It may also be possible that the abuser was in your state when s/he abused you s/he but has since left the state.
  3. If you file your petition and the abuser gets served with the court petition while s/he is in your state, this is another way for the court to get jurisdiction.

However, even if none of the above apply to your situation, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t get an order. If you file, you may be granted an order on consent or the judge may find other circumstances that allow the order to be granted.

You can read more about personal jurisdiction in our Court System Basics - Personal Jurisdiction section.

Note: If the judge in your state refuses to issue an order, you can file for an order in the courthouse in the state where the abuser lives. However, remember that you will likely need to file the petition in person and attend various court dates, which could be difficult if the abuser’s state is far away.

Who can get an order for protection

Am I eligible to file for an order for protection?

You can file for an order for protection for yourself and/or your minor child against any of the following people who have committed domestic violence against you or the minor child:

  • your spouse or former spouse
  • your parent
  • your child
  • someone related to you by blood
  • someone with whom you live/lived
  • someone with whom you have a child in common 
  • someone with whom you are expecting a child (if the female in the couple is currently pregnant)
  • someone with whom you have/had a significant romantic or sexual relationship.1 

Note: If you are a “reputable adult” who is at least 25 years old, you can file on behalf of a minor child who is a family or household member of yours but not your biological child.2

A minor child who is age 16 or older can file on his/her own behalf against a spouse or former spouse, or a person with whom the minor has a child in common - but the judge must believe that the minor has “sufficient maturity and judgment” to file on his/her own and that it is in the best interests of the minor to allow the minor to file.  All other minors must have a parent, guardian, or a ”reputable” adult in his/her household (who is age 25 or older) file on their behalf.2

If you do not qualify for an order for protection, you may be able to file for a Harassment Restraining Order.

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(2)(b)
2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(4)(a)

Can a minor file for an order for protection?

A minor child who is age 16 or older can file on his/her own behalf against a spouse or former spouse, or a person with whom the minor has a child in common - but the judge must believe that the minor has “sufficient maturity and judgment” to file on his/her own and that it is in the best interests of the minor to allow the minor to file. All other minors must have a parent, guardian, or a “reputable” adult in his/her household (who is age 25 or older) file on their behalf.1

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(4)(a)

Can I get an order for protection against a same-sex partner?

In Minnesota, you may apply for an order for protection against a current or former same-sex partner as long as the relationship meets the requirements listed in Am I eligible to file for an order for protection?  You must also be the victim of an act of domestic abuse, which is explained here What is the legal definition of domestic abuse in Minnesota?

You can find information about LGBTQIA victims of abuse and what types of barriers they may face on our LGBTQIA Victims page.

If I am not eligible for an order for protection, is there another type of restraining order I can get?

If you are not eligible for an order for protection, you may be able to get a harassment restraining order (HRO).  Anyone who is a victim of harassment can file for a harassment restraining order. It does not matter what relationship you have with the harasser. To read more, go to our Harassment Restraining Orders page.

How much does it cost to get an order for protection? Do I need a lawyer?

There are no filing fees to get an order for protection.1

You do not need a lawyer to file for an order for protection.  However, you may wish to have a lawyer, especially if the abuser has a lawyer. If you can, contact a lawyer to make sure that your legal rights are protected.

If you cannot afford a lawyer but want one to help you with your case, you can find contact information for legal assistance organizations, which offer free or low-cost help to those who qualify, on our MN Finding a Lawyer page.

Domestic violence organizations in your area may also be able to help you through the legal process and may have legal referrals. Having another person give you support through this process can be a tremendous help.  To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit our MN Advocates and Shelters page.

 1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(3a)

If you are going to be in court without a lawyer, our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section may be useful to you.

Steps for obtaining an order for protection

Step 1: Fill out the necessary forms and file them in court.

You can get and file a petition for an order for protection at the appropriate courthouse - see In which country can I file for an order for protection? Check our MN Courthouse Locations to find the courthouse in your area.  At the courthouse, the clerk will provide you with the forms that you need to file. If you need assistance filling out the form, you may ask the clerk for help or you can try to get help through one of the domestic violence organizations listed on our MN Advocates and Shelters page.

You will also find links to online forms at our MN Download Court Forms page.

If you are applying for a temporary ex parte order, you will have to include a detailed description of the facts and circumstances concerning the family violence and the need for the immediate protective order.  Also, you must sign the application under oath.

Read the petition carefully and ask questions if you don’t understand something. Describe in detail how the abuser (respondent) injured or threatened you. Explain when and where the abuse or threats occurred. Write about the incidents of violence, using descriptive language (slapping, hitting, grabbing, choking, threatening, etc.) that fits your situation. Be specific. Include details and dates, if possible.

Note: Do not sign the form until you have shown it to a clerk. The form must be signed in front of a notary public at the courthouse.

 

 

Step 2: A judge will review your petition and may grant an ex parte order.

After you finish filling out your petition, bring it to the court clerk. If you are in immediate danger, the judge can order an ex parte order. A judge will decide this based on the facts included in your petition.

The abuser does not have to be notified in advance to receive an ex parte order, which can last for up to two years. If an ex parte order is granted, the ex parte order and petition must be served upon the respondent and, if a hearing was requested by you, s/he will also be served with a notice of the date set for the hearing. If you do not request a hearing, the order served on the abuser must include a notice advising the respondent/abuser of the right to request a hearing to object to the order along with a form that can be used by the respondent to request this hearing. She must request the hearing within five days of service of the order upon him/her.1

1 Minn Stat § 518B.01(7)(c)

Step 3: Service of process

If you receive an ex parte order, it will not take effect until the papers have been served upon the abuser. The courthouse clerk will give all of the necessary paperwork to the sheriff or another law enforcement officer to be served personally upon the abuser. However, if personal service cannot be made, the judge may order service of the petition and any ex parte order by alternate means (such as to the respondent’s last known addresses) or by “publication.”1

The application for alternate service must include the last known location of the respondent as well as other information about the respondent/abuser’s family members’ locations, etc. The judge is supposed to consider the length of time the respondent’s location has been unknown, the likelihood that the respondent’s location will become known, the type of things you are asking for in your order for protection, and the nature of the efforts made to locate the respondent. The judge can order service by first class mail, forwarding address requested, to any addresses where there is a reasonable possibility that mail or information will be forwarded or communicated to the respondent/abuser.1

The court may also order publication in Minnesota or in another state, but only if such publication may reasonably succeed in notifying the respondent of the proceeding. If either of these options are ordered, service shall be considered complete 14 days after mailing or 14 days after court-ordered publication.1

1 Minn Stat § 518B.01(8)(a),(c)

You can find more information about service of process in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section, in the question called What is service of process and how do I accomplish it?

Step 4: The hearing

It is very important that you attend the court hearing. If you absolutely cannot attend, contact the court clerk immediately and ask how you can get a continuance for a later court date.  See the Preparing your Case section for ways you can show the judge that you were abused. You can learn more about the court system in our Preparing for Court – By Yourself section.  See the MN Finding a Lawyer page for legal referrals.

If the abuser does not attend the hearing, the judge may either issue a “default judgment” and grant you a permanent order for protection, or the judge may decide to reschedule the hearing. If the hearing is rescheduled, be sure to ask the judge to extend your ex parte order so that you are protected until the next hearing date.

After the hearing

Can the abuser have a gun?

Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession.  There are a few places where you can find this information:

  • first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Minnesota have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
  • second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
  • third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.

You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website

What 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.1  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).2  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.3

1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(i)
2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(g)
3 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6)(h)

What 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 Safety Tips page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.

I 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 Safety Tips page. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please go to our MN Advocates and Shelters 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.

What 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.1 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.

1 MN Code § 518B.01(14)

How 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.1

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).1  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).2

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.3

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.4  

1 MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(b)
2 MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(a)
3 MN Code § 518B.01(6a)(c)
4 MN Code § 518B.01(11)

Can 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.

Can 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.1

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.1

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.2

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

Harassment Restraining Orders

A harassment restraining order is an order issued against a harasser, regardless of your relationship to him/her. It can order him/her to stop harassing you and to have no contact with you.

Basic info and definitions

What is the legal definition of harassment in Minnesota?

For the purposes of getting a harassment restraining order, harassment is defined as:

  • a single incident of:
  • repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a significant negative effect or are intended to have a significant negative effect on your safety, security, or privacy;
  • targeted residential picketing; or
  • a pattern of attending public events after being notified that the person’s presence at the event is harassing to another.1

1 MN Code § 609.748(1)(a)

What types of harassment restraining orders are there? How long do they last?

You can get a temporary order without the harasser present in court if the judge reasonably believes that the respondent has harassed you. If your petition is based on a single incident of harassment, your petition must also state that there is an immediate and present danger of harassment before the court may issue a temporary restraining order.1 A temporary order is in effect until a hearing is held on a final restraining order.2 If the petitioner or the respondent wants to request a hearing, s/he must do so within 20 days of service of the petition.3

A final restraining order will generally last up to two years. However, if you have had two or more previous restraining orders in effect against the same respondent or the respondent has violated a prior or existing restraining order on two or more occasions, your HRO can be issued for up to 50 years.4Note: If the judge makes the order for a period of up to 50 years, the respondent can request to have the restraining order dismissed or modified (changed) if the order has been in effect for at least five years and the respondent has not violated the order.5

1 MN Code § 609.748(4)(b)
2 MN Code § 609.748(4)(d)
3 MN Code § 609.748(3)(d),(4)(f)
4 MN Code § 609.748(5)(b)(3)
5 MN Code § 609.748(5)(d)

Who is eligible for a harassment restraining order?

Anyone who is a victim of harassment, or the victim’s guardian or conservator, can file for a harassment restraining order (“HRO”) from district court.1 It does not matter what relationship the victim has with the harasser. To see the legal definition of harassment for the purposes of getting an HRO, go to What is the legal definition of harassment in Minnesota?

1 MN Code § 609.748(2)

Can a minor get a harassment restraining order?

A parent, step-parent, guardian, or conservator of a minor who is being harassed can file for the restraining order on the minor’s behalf.1

1 MN Code § 609.748(2)

What protections can I get in a harassment restraining order?

A temporary or final harassment restraining order can order the harasser to (1) stop harassing you; and (2) have no contact with you.1

1 MN Code § 609.748(4)(a),(5)(a)

Can I get a harassment restraining order against a minor?

Yes. The law allows for an order against an adult or juvenile who has committed harassment against you.1

1 MN Code § 609.748(1)(b)

Getting a harassment restraining order

What are the steps for getting a harassment restraining order?

To file for an HRO, you can go to the district court in the county where you live, where the harasser lives, or where the harassment took place.1  A judge will decide whether or not to issue you an ex parte temporary order on the day you file.  If so, the temporary order will be in effect until a hearing is held on a final restraining order.2  The petition and any temporary restraining order must be served personally served on the respondent, which is usually done by a peace officer (but could also be done by a corrections officer, including probation officers, court services officers, parole officers, and employees of jails or correctional facilities).3 For more information on service of the order, see How can a harassment restraining order be served?

If the respondent or the petitioner (you) wants to request a hearing, it must be done within 20 days of service of the petition.4  If the respondent requests a hearing, you will get notice of the hearing date in the mail at least five days before the hearing.  If you request a hearing, the respondent must be personally served with notice at least 5 days before the hearing.5

1 MN Code § 609.748(2) 
2 MN Code § 609.748(4)(d)
3 MN Code § 609.748(5b)
4 MN Code § 609.748(3)(d),(4)(f)
5 MN Code § 609.748(3)(a)

How can a harassment restraining order be served?

The petition and any temporary restraining order must be personally served on the respondent at least 5 days before the hearing (if you request one). If personal service cannot be completed at least 5 days before the hearing, the court can set a new hearing date.1

Service is usually done by law enforcement (a “peace officer”) but it could also be done by a “corrections officer,” such as a probation officer, court services officer, parole officer, or an employee of a jail or correctional facility.2  As an alternative to serving the actual petition, order, and notice of the hearing, the law allows a peace officer to serve the respondent with a “short-form notification.” (This may be appropriate, for example, if the respondent comes into contact with the police and the police learn that there is an unserved temporary restraining order.)  The short-form notification must include the following: the respondent’s name; the respondent’s date of birth, if known; the petitioner’s name; the names of other protected parties; the date and county in which the temporary restraining order or restraining order was filed; the court file number; the hearing date and time, if known; the conditions that apply to the respondent, either in checklist form or handwritten; and the name of the judge who signed the order.  In addition, the short-form notification will have the following instructions to the respondent:  “The restraining order is now enforceable. You must report to your nearest sheriff’s office or county court to obtain a copy of the restraining order. You are subject to arrest and may be charged with a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony if you violate any of the terms of the restraining order or this short-form notification.”3

Note: If service was attempted by a peace officer but it was unsuccessful because the respondent is avoiding service by hiding or for any other reason (for example, refusing to answer the door when the police arrive), you can file an affidavit with the court to explain what happened.  The judge can then allow the respondent to be “served” by publishing notice of the hearing in the newspaper (for one week) as well as mailing a copy to the respondent’s home or business (if the addresses are known).4

1 MN Code § 609.748(3)(a)
2 MN Code § 609.748(5b)
3 MN Code § 609.748(5a)(a)
4 MN Code § 609.748(3)(b)

How much does it cost to file for a harassment restraining order?

There can be a filing fee for a harassment restraining order, depending on the facts of your case and who you are filing against.  The district court can tell you what the fee is but it can likely be a few hundred dollars.1  However, if you are a low-income person and meet the income guidelines, the fee will be waived.  Also, regardless of your income, if you allege that the respondent committed stalkingthe fee will be waived.2

1 According to the Minnesota Judicial Branch, the base filing fee is $287 plus possible “law library fees”
2 MN Code § 609.748(3a)

Violation of a harassment restraining order

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” (or juvenile offense).2  To read the list of crimes that are considered “qualified domestic violence-related offenses,” see MN Code § 609.02(16).

The abuser may be guilty of a felony for violating a harassment restraining order if the abuser violates the order under any of the following circumstances:

  • within ten years of two or more convictions for qualified domestic violence-related offenses (or juvenile offenses);
  • 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),(c),(d),(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 what 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 (or instead of) reporting a violation to the police, a petition to hold the abuser in contempt of court can be filed in the court that issued the harassment restraining order. You (the victim) can file the petition or it can be filed by 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.1

1 MN Code § 609.748(6)(i)

Moving to Another State with an Order for Protection

If you are moving out of state or are going to be out of the state for any reason, your order for protection can still be enforceable.

General rules

Can I get my order for protection from Minnesota enforced in another state?

Yes. If you have a valid Minnesota OFP that meets federal standards, it can be enforced in another state. The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which is a federal law, states that all valid OFPs granted in the United States receive “full faith and credit” in all state and tribal courts within the US, including US territories.1 See How do I know if my OFP is good under federal law? to find out if your OFP qualifies.

Each state must enforce out-of-state OFPs in the same way it enforces its own orders. If the abuser violates an out-of-state OFP, s/he will be punished according to the laws of whatever state you are in when the order is violated. This is what is meant by “full faith and credit.” 

1 See MN Statutes § 518B.01(18)(a)(4)

How do I know if my OFP is good under federal law?

An OFP is good anywhere in the United States as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you;1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case); and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

I have a temporary ex parte order. Can it be enforced in another state?

Yes.   An ex parte temporary order can be enforced in other states as long as it meets the requirements listed in How do I know if my OFP is good under federal law?1

Note: The state where you are going generally cannot extend your ex parte temporary order or issue you a permanent order when the temporary one expires. If you need to extend your temporary order, you will have to go back to the Minnesota court that issued the order and arrange to be at the hearing in person or by telephone (if that is an option offered by the court).  However, you may be able to reapply for one in the new state that you are moving to if you meet the requirements for getting a protective order in that state – but, if you apply for one in a new state, the abuser would know what state you are living in, which may put you in danger.

 

Getting your order for protection enforced in another state

How do I get my OFP enforced in another state?

Federal law does not require you to take any special steps to get your order for protection (OFP) enforced in another state.

Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid OFP is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.1  Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state. You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our Advocates and Shelters page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.

Note
: It is important to keep a copy of your OFP with you at all times. It is also a good idea to know the rules of states you will be living in or visiting to ensure that your out-of-state order can be enforced in a timely manner.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

Do I need anything special to get my OFP enforced in another state?

In some states, you will need a certified copy of your OFP. A certified copy says that it is a “true and correct” copy; it is signed and initialed by the clerk of court that gave you the order, and usually has some kind of court stamp on it. In Minnesota, a certified order has a stamp and a seal on it.

The copy you originally received was probably not a certified copy. If your copy is not a certified copy, go to the Domestic Abuse Office of the court that gave you the order and ask for a certified copy. If your court does not have a Domestic Abuse Office, go to the court clerk and ask how to get a certified copy. There is no fee to get a certified copy of a MN OFP.

Note: It is a good idea to keep a copy of the order with you at all times. You will also want to bring several copies of the order with you when you move. 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. Give a copy of the order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.

Can I get someone to help me? Do I need a lawyer?

You do not need a lawyer to get your OFP enforced in another state.

However, you may want to get help from a local domestic violence advocate or attorney in the state that you move to. A domestic violence advocate can let you know what the advantages and disadvantages are for registering your OFP, and help you through the process if you decide to do so.

To find a domestic violence advocate or an attorney in the state you are moving to please visit Places that Help page and select the state you are moving to.

Do I need to tell the court in Minnesota if I move?

The law says that a petitioner who has an order for protection is supposed to give notification of a change in residence immediately to the court administrator and to the local law enforcement agency having jurisdiction over the new residence of where you are moving to.1
You are not required to tell the court in Minnesota if you move, but it might be a good idea to give the court a current address so that you can be notified of any actions that are taken regarding your order for protection.

If you notify the court administrator at the court that gave you the order that you are moving to an address that is covered by a different local law enforcement agency than your current one, the court administrator must forward a copy of your order to the new law enforcement agency within 24 hours.2 If you do not tell the court that you are moving, it is still a good idea to send a copy of your order to the law enforcement agency in your new town to make enforcement easier.

If you provide your new address to the court, you can ask them to keep it confidential. It will be kept in a confidential part of your file, and the public will not have access to it. However, your new address could possibly be released to court officials in your new state or law enforcement officials in either Minnesota or your new state.3

1 MN Statutes § 518B.01(13)(c)(1)
2 MN Statutes § 518B.01(13)(b)
3 MN Statutes § 518B.01(3b)

Enforcing custody provisions in another state

I was granted temporary custody with my OFP. Can I take my kids out of the state?

Maybe. It may depend on the exact wording of the custody provision in your OFP.  You may have to first seek the permission of the court before leaving. If the abuser was granted visitation rights with your children, then you may have to have the order changed, or show the court that there is a fair and realistic alternative to the current visitation schedule.

If you are unsure about whether or not you can take your kids out of the state, it is important to talk to a lawyer who understands domestic violence and custody laws, and can help you make the safest decision for you and your children.  You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations and legal assistance in the MN area on our MN Places that Help page.

I was granted temporary custody with my OFP. Will another state enforce this custody order?

Yes. Custody, visitation, and child support provisions that are included in an OFP can be enforced across state lines. Law enforcement and courts in another state are required by federal law to enforce these provisions.1

1 18 USC § 2266

Enforcing Your Out-Of-State Order in Minnesota

If you are planning to move to Minnesota or are going to be in Minnesota for any reason, your protection or restraining order can be enforced.

General rules for out-of-state orders in Minnesota

Can I get my protection order enforced in Minnesota? What are the requirements?

Yes. Your protection order can be enforced in Minnesota as long as:

  • It was issued to prevent violent or threatening acts, harassing behavior, sexual violence, or it was issued to prevent another person from coming near you or contacting you;1
  • The court that issued the order had jurisdiction over the people and case. (In other words, the court had the authority to hear the case); and
  • The abuser received notice of the order and had an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story.
    • In the case of ex parte temporary and emergency orders, the abuser must receive notice and have an opportunity to go to court to tell his/her side of the story at a hearing that is scheduled before the temporary order expires.2

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

1 18 U.S.C. § 2266(5)
2 18 U.S.C. § 2265(a) & (b)

Can I have my out-of-state protection order changed, extended, or canceled in MN?

No. Only the state that issued your protection order can change, extend, or cancel the order. You cannot have this done by a court in Minnesota.

To have your order changed, extended, or canceled, you will have to file a motion or petition in the court where the order was issued. It  may be possible to request that you attend the court hearing by telephone rather than in person, so that you do not need to return to the state where the abuser is living. You may not want to contact the clerk of court where you live to find out.  To find out more information about how to modify a restraining order, see the Restraining Orders page for the state where your order was issued.

If your order does expire while you are living in Minnesota, you may be able to get a new one issued in Minnesota but this may be difficult to do if no new incidents of abuse have occurred in Minnesota. To find out more information on how to get an order for protection in Minnesota, visit our MN Orders for Protection page.

I was granted temporary custody with my protection order. Will I still have temporary custody of my children in MN?

Yes. As long as the child custody provision complies with certain federal laws,1 Minnesota can enforce a temporary custody order that is a part of a protection order.

To have someone read over your order and tell you if it meets this legal standard, contact a lawyer in your area. To find a lawyer in your area please visit our MN Finding a Lawyer page under the Places that Help tab.

1 The federal laws are the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act (UCCJA) or the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA), and the Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act of 1980.

Registering your Out-of-State order in Minnesota

What is the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) Registry? Who has access to it?

The National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC) is a nationwide, electronic database that contains protective order information, used by law enforcement agencies in the U.S, Canada, and Puerto Rico. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.

All law enforcement officials have access to it, but the information is encrypted so outsiders cannot access it.

How do I register my protection order in Minnesota?

You (or the court that issued your order) can provide a certified or authenticated copy of your out-of-state protective order to the court administrator in the county where you are living (or in any of the counties mentioned here, if applicable).1  If the copy you have is not certified or authenticated, you can still file it if you swear in an affidavit that it is an accurate, valid copy.2  

If you need help registering your protection order, you can contact a local domestic violence organization in Minnesota for assistance. To find a lawyer or legal aid program in your area, please visit our MN Finding a Lawyer page.

1 MN Statutes § 518B.01(19a)(b)
2 MN Statutes § 518B.01(19a)(c)

Do I have to register my protection order in Minnesota in order to get it enforced?

No. A valid out-of-state protective order has the same effect and is supposed to be enforced in the same way as a Minnesota order for protection issued whether or not it was filed with a court administrator or otherwise entered in the state order for protection database.1 In addition, a peace officer is supposed to make an arrest for a violation of your out-of-state protective order in the same manner that a peace officer would make an arrest for a violation of a Minnesota order for protection.2 The fact that an out-of-state protective order has not been filed with the court administrator or otherwise entered into the state order for protection database is not a valid reason for a police officer to refuse to enforce the terms of the order if s/he is shown a copy of the order unless, by looking at the order, it is apparent to the officer that the order is not valid.3

1 MN Statutes § 518B.01(19a)(e)
2 MN Statutes § 518B.01(19a)(h)
3 MN Statutes § 518B.01(19a)(i)

Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?

Under the federal Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), which applies to all U.S. states and territories, the court is not permitted to notify the abuser when a protective order has been registered or filed in a new state unless you specifically request that the abuser be notified.1  However, you may wish to confirm that the clerk is aware of this law before registering the order if your address is confidential.

However, remember that there may be a possibility that the abuser could somehow find out what state you have moved to.  It is important to continue to safety plan, even if you are no longer in the state where the abuser is living.  We have some safety planning tips to get you started on our Safety Tips page.  You can also contact a local domestic violence organization to get help in developing a personalized safety plan. You will find contact information for organizations in your area on our MN Advocates and Shelters page.

1 18 USC § 2265(d)

Does it cost anything to register my protection order?

No. There is no fee for registering your protection order in Minnesota.1

1 MN Statutes §518B.01(3a)

What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?

Maybe. Neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced.  However, if your order is not registered, then it will not be entered into the state registry, which might delay enforcement.

If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Minnesota. To find a shelter or an advocate at a local program, please visit the MN Advocates and Shelters page under the Places that Help tab at the top of this page.