Order of Protection Defense

As the Minnesota Judicial Branch notes, an Order for Protection (commonly referred to simply as an OFP) is a court order signed by a judge that is designed to protect the person filing the petition, the petitioner, from domestic abuse. The person who allegedly committed the domestic abuse and whom protection is being sought from is referred to as the respondent.

An Order for Protection can have wide-ranging effects on the life of a respondent, possibly limiting where they can go and who they can speak to, and requiring them to pay restitution to the petitioner. It is important to comply with the court order as violations can have serious consequences.

If an Order for Protection is being sought against you or you have been accused of violating an Order for Protection in Minnesota, you want to make sure that you present the best possible case in court. An experienced attorney can help you avoid serious penalties and may be able to have the court loosen or eliminate certain restrictions.

The Law Office of Barry Hogen has nearly three decades of experience representing clients all over the greater Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Call (763) 513-9085 or fill out an online contact form to schedule a free consultation.

What are the laws?

Subdivision 4(a) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 states that any family or household member, a guardian, or a reputable adult 25 years of age or older can petition the court for an Order of Protection on behalf of minor family or household members. A minor who is 16 years of age or older can file a petition on their own behalf against a spouse, former spouse, or person with whom the minor has a child in common when the court determines that the minor has sufficient maturity and judgment and that it is in the minor’s best interests.

A petitioner can file for an Order of Protection in the county they live in, the county where the respondent lives, the county where the domestic abuse occurred, any county in which the petitioner and respondent have a pending or completed family law case (such as divorce or child custody), or the court with jurisdiction over divorce actions. It costs no money to apply for an Order of Protection or to have the Order of Protection served to the respondent.

Subdivision 2(a) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 defines domestic abuse as “physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury, or assault, or terroristic threats, criminal sexual conduct, or interference with an emergency call committed against a family or household member by a family or household member.” Under Subdivision 2(b) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01, a family or household member is defined as spouses, former spouses, parents, children, and persons who are related by blood, presently residing together, have resided together in the past, or have a child in common. The term also includes a man and woman when the woman is pregnant and the man is the alleged father and persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.

When a petitioner submits a petition for an Order of Protection, they can also request certain forms of relief. A petitioner can:

  • Ask a judge to issue an Ex Parte Order for immediate relief
  • Ask a judge to order the respondent not to cause the petitioner or other protected persons physical harm or fear of physical harm
  • Ask a judge to order the respondent not to have any contact with the petitioner or other protected persons
  • Ask a judge to order the respondent not to enter a work address
  • Ask a judge to order the respondent not to enter additional addresses
  • Ask a judge to order the respondent to continue all insurance coverage for protected persons
  • Ask a judge to order possession and care of a pet or companion animal be granted to one person
  • Ask a judge to order a respondent not to abuse a pet or companion animal
  • Ask a judge to direct local police or sheriff to provide assistance with certain needs, such as removing items from shared residences
  • Ask a judge for any kind of relief not listed

After a petition is received, the court will hold a hearing no less than 14 days after the date of the petition. The hearing cannot be held less than five days after the respondent has been served the petition though.

Subdivision 6(b) of Minnesota Statute § 518B.01 establishes that any relief granted by an order for protection cannot exceed two years. The statute does make an exception for cases in which a court determines a longer period is appropriate.

It is important to note that Minnesota also issues harassment restraining orders (HROs) for individuals who have been victims of abuse in relationships with people who are not family or household members. An HRO also typically remains in effect for two years, but Subdivision 5(b)(3) of Minnesota Statute § 609.748 provides that relief can be granted under an HRO for up to 50 years.

What are the penalties?

A person violates an Order for Protection when they take any action prohibited by the court order. Order for Protection violations may be classified as follows:

  • Misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 if an alleged offender knew of the existence of an Order for Protection. A conviction is also punishable by court-ordered participation in counseling or other appropriate programs, and refusal or failure to comply with a treatment order can result in 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000. Misdemeanor Order for Protection violations may also result in contempt of court, which is punishable by another fine of up to $250 and/or up to six months imprisonment in the county jail, workhouse, or work farm.
  • Gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000 when an alleged offender violates an Order for Protection within 10 years of a previous domestic violence-related offense conviction. Again, the alleged offender will be ordered to participate in counseling or other appropriate programs selected by the court, and refusal or failure to comply with a treatment order is punishable by 90 days imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
  • Felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 when an alleged offender violates an Order for Protection within 10 years of the first of two or more previous domestic violence-related offense convictions, or while possessing a dangerous weapon.

HRO violations are subject to the following punishments:

  • Misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for an HRO violation involving no aggravating factors.
  • Gross misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $3,000 when an alleged offender violates an HRO within 10 years of a previous domestic violence conviction.
  • Felony punishable by up to five years in prison and/or a fine of up to $10,000 when an alleged offender violates an Order for Protection within 10 years of the first of two or more previous domestic violence convictions, either by falsely impersonating another person; against an alleged victim less than 18 years of age when a respondent is more than 36 months older; while possessing a dangerous weapon; because of an alleged victim’s or another’s actual or perceived sex, race, national origin, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability, or age; with intent to influence or tamper with a juror or a judicial proceeding; or with intent to retaliate against a person because of their performance of official duties in connection with a judicial proceeding.

Another type of protective order in Minnesota is the domestic abuse no contact order (DANCO), which is issued in a delinquency proceeding for domestic abuse, harassment, or stalking committed against a family or household member; a violation of an Order for Protection; or a violation of a prior DANCO. The penalties for DANCO violations are largely the same as those for Order of Protection violations.

Served with an Order for Protection? Call Us For Help

Some people believe that they can go into court and represent themselves during Order for Protection hearings or proceedings for alleged violations of Orders for Protection. Many of the same people end up struggling to prove their cases and ultimately have courts rule against them in several important areas.

Have you been served with an Order for Protection or were you arrested for allegedly violating an Order for Protection in Minnesota? Do not try to explain yourself to authorities until you have legal representation.

The Law Office of Barry Hogen can provide a diligent defense against Order for Protection charges and also fight to limit the restrictions placed on you in an Order for Protection hearing. You can have our attorney provide a complete evaluation of your case when you call (763) 513-9085 or contact us online to set up a free consultation.