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)