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 stalking, the 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)