Obtaining A Restraining Order

Minnesota residents know domestic violence is a serious issue. Domestic violence victims who escape from an abusive situation often continue to experience stalking or harassment.

Domestic violence victims in Minnesota continuing to experience harassment can petition for a harassment restraining order. An HRO prevents the abuser from continuing to stalk or harass the victim.

Harassment can result from a single occurrence of physical or sexual assault, or from repeated actions that produce, or are intended to produce, a profoundly negative effect on the victim. Following someone, making threatening phone calls or repeatedly showing up at the victim's home uninvited are all forms of harassment.

Impact of stalking and harassment on domestic violence victims

Stalking is defined as conduct aimed at a specific individual that would cause a reasonable person to feel afraid. It is a crime in all 50 states, and a felony in over half the states if the stalker is apprehended more than once and special circumstances are present. Special circumstances include violating a previous order, using a dangerous weapon or repeated harassment of the same victim.

According to the National Center for Victims of Crime, stalking affects over 6 million people in the United States every year. Victims are usually stalked or harassed by someone they know, typically a former spouse or partner.

Many stalkers harass their victims more than once per day through a variety of methods. A previous pattern of stalking is also common.

Stalking and harassment have a devastating impact on their victims. A study from the Journal of Interpersonal Violence reports that 46 percent of stalking or harassment victims say their biggest fear is the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen next.

Rates of depression, anxiety and insomnia are also higher among victims. Some report experiencing job trouble or even moving because of the harassment.

Important information about HROs

An HRO may be filed on behalf of the harassment victim or minor children. HRO's are typically granted for one to two years and may not exceed two years.

An HRO can prevent the harasser from:

  • Harassing the victim or minor children
  • Initiating contact with the victim or minor children
  • Visiting a certain location such as a home, school or workplace
  • Coming within a certain distance of a home, school or workplace

An HRO is a civil order. However, violation of an HRO may result in criminal penalties. In the event of a violation, notify the police immediately, and be prepared to present a copy of the HRO.

Modifying or terminating an HRO requires additional paperwork and a fee. The paperwork must include reasons for the modification or termination. The request is reviewed at a hearing, where a judicial officer decides whether to grant or deny the request. The HRO is not officially modified or terminated until after the hearing.

Minnesota residents with additional questions about HROs can benefit from an experienced restraining order attorney. The attorney can impart valuable knowledge and provide guidance through the entire HRO process.