Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get an order for protection, 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.
- Second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws.
- 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, 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 firearms while they are 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 office 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 passwords to online accounts, etc.
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 our Safety Planning page. Advocates at local domestic violence organizations 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 on our MN Advocates and Shelters page to get help, support, and advice on how to stay safe. They can help you develop a safety plan and connect you with the resources you need. For safety planning ideas and information, go to our Safety Planning 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 a lawyer about the possibility of filing an appeal.
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. An abuser can be arrested, fined, jailed, or ordered to participate in counseling or other appropriate programs.1 Another way to handle a violation is to file a violation petition in which you are asking the judge to hold the abuser in civil contempt for violating the judge’s order. This would be filed in the same court that issued your order.
If you do call the police, 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. 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.
For more information about contempt, including the difference between criminal contempt and civil contempt, go to our general Domestic Violence Restraining Orders page.
1 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(14)
How can my order be changed, extended, or vacated?
The judge can extend the terms of an existing order if you can prove that:
- the abuser has violated a prior or existing order for protection;
- you are in fear of physical harm from the abuser;
- the abuser has stalked you; or
- the abuser 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.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 judge determines that:
- the 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 abuser.3
To modify or vacate an order, you may file a petition in court to request either one.
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 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 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6a)(b)
2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6a)(a)
3 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(6a)(c)
4 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(11)
Can my employer discipline or fire me for taking time off work to file for an order for protection?
Under Minnesota state law, your employer cannot fire, discipline, threaten, penalize, or otherwise discriminate against you because you took a reasonable amount of time off from work to seek 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 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(23)(a)
2 Minn. Stat. § 518B.01(23)(b), (23)(c)
If I get a protection order, will it show up in an internet search?
According to federal law, which applies to all states, territories, and tribal lands, the courts are not supposed to make available publicly on the internet any information that would be likely to reveal your identity or location. This applies to all of these documents:
- the petition you file;
- the protection order, restraining order, or injunction that was issued by the court; or
- the registration of an order in a different state.1
1 18 USC § 2265(d)(3)