What is a disorderly conduct restraining order?
A disorderly conduct restraining order (DCRO) can offer protection to someone who is the victim of disorderly conduct, which is similar to harassment. You do not need to have a specific relationship with the abuser - s/he could be a anyone: a neighbor, acquaintance, intimate partner, family member, etc.
A DCRO could be a good option for someone who is not eligible to file for a domestic violence protection order (DVPO). However, it is possible that a person may actually qualify for both a DCRO and a DVPO and can have both at the same time.1
1Wolt v. Wolt, 778 N.W.2d 802 (Supr. Ct. 2010); N.D.C.C. §14–07.1–07
What is the legal definition of disorderly conduct?
“Disorderly conduct” is intrusive (interfering) or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that are intended to negatively affect your safety, security, or privacy.1 Some examples could be repeated teasing, yelling threats, harassing phone calls, and other behaviors that are intended to scare you. In addition, for the purpose of getting a disorderly conduct restraining order, human trafficking or attempted human trafficking are also included in the definition of “disorderly conduct.”1
1 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(1)
What kinds of disorderly conduct restraining orders are there and how long do they last?
Temporary disorderly conduct restraining orders:
A temporary disorderly conduct restraining order will tell the abuser to stop harassing or abusing you and/or prohibit the abuser from contacting you. To get one, you will need to fill out a petition with your name, or the name of the victim if you are applying for a minor, as well as the abuser’s name, and the specific facts that explain what happened and why you need a disorderly conduct restraining order.1 Based on your petition, if the judge believes that the abuser committed an act of disorderly conduct, the judge may issue a temporary order. To get a temporary order, the abuser does not need to be notified in advance. A temporary order will be effective until a final disorderly conduct restraining order is served on the abuser or until the temporary order is dismissed by the judge if you are denied a final order at the hearing.2 A full hearing for a final disorderly conduct restraining order will be scheduled within 14 days from the date you get the temporary order unless good cause is shown for why the hearing cannot happen in fourteen days.3
Disorderly conduct restraining orders:
A final disorderly conduct restraining order will only be granted after the abuser has been notified of the date and place of the court hearing and has a chance to tell his/her side of the story at a court hearing. Both you and the abuser will have an opportunity to present evidence, testimony, witnesses, etc. – you might want to get a lawyer for this hearing, especially if you think the abuser might have one. If the judge believes the abuser has committed disorderly conduct, s/he will grant a disorderly conduct restraining order.3 The order will last up to two years.4
1 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(3)
2 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(4)
3 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(5)
4 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(6)
Who can file for a disorderly conduct restraining order?
Anyone who is a victim of disorderly conduct can file for a disorderly conduct restraining order.1 You do not need to have a specific relationship with the abuser.2 It may be a neighbor, acquaintance, intimate partner, family member, etc.
If you are a minor, your parent or guardian must file for you on your behalf.1
1 N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(2); see Instructions for Requesting a Disorderly Conduct Restraining Order
2 See N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(5)
How can a disorderly conduct restraining order help me?
An ex parte temporary order and a final disorderly conduct order can order the person who is harassing you or abusing you to:
- stop the disorderly conduct; and
- have no contact with you.1
These orders do not offer other kinds of relief that a domestic violence protection order can give you, such as temporary custody, the surrender of firearms, or exclusion of the abuser from the home.
1 See N.D.C.C. § 12.1-31.2-01(4)
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 power (“personal jurisdiction”) 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.