Consequences For Violating An Order For Protection In Minnesota

The violaton of an Order for Protection in Minnesota can yield a number of penalties for those who are found to have done so, including criminal penalties, civil contempt and firearm possession implications.

Criminal penalties. Minnesota law provides misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony penalties for a violation of an OFP issued under the Domestic Abuse Act or under a similar law of another state, the District of Columbia, tribal lands, or U.S. territories. In addition, any violation of an OFP constitutes contempt of court and is subject to the penalties for contempt. A known violation of an OFP is a misdemeanor. The penalty is a gross misdemeanor if the person knowingly violates an OFP within ten years of a previous qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction or adjudication of delinquency. The penalty is a five-year felony if the person knowingly violates the order within ten years of the first of two or more previous qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions or adjudications of delinquency. Felony penalties also apply to persons who commit the violation while possessing a dangerous weapon. The law provides minimum sentences upon misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, and felony convictions. The law also requires the court to order the defendant to participate in counseling or other appropriate programs selected by the court.

Statement of obligation and bond. The court may require the respondent to acknowledge an obligation to comply with an OFP on the record if the court finds that (1) the respondent has violated an OFP, and (2) there is reason to believe that the respondent will commit a further violation of the provisions of the order restraining the respondent from committing acts of domestic abuse, or excluding the respondent from the petitioner’s residence. The court also may require the respondent to post a bond sufficient to deter the respondent from committing additional violations. If the respondent refuses to comply with an order to acknowledge the obligation or to post a bond, the court must commit the respondent to the county jail during the term of the OFP or until the respondent complies.

Order to show cause. The court may issue an order to the respondent requiring the respondent to appear and show cause within 14 days why the respondent should not be found in contempt of court and punished. This order may be issued upon the filing of an affidavit by the petitioner, a peace officer, or an interested party designated by the court, alleging that the respondent has violated an OFP.

New order to replace expired order. If an OFP has expired between the time of an alleged violation and the court’s hearing on the violation, the court may grant a new OFP based solely on the respondent’s alleged violation of a prior order, which is effective until the hearing on the alleged violation of the prior order. If the court finds that the respondent has violated the order, the court may extend the relief granted in the new OFP for a fixed period, not to exceed one year, except when the court determines that a longer fixed period is appropriate.

Firearm and/or pistol possession. No person who has been convicted of domestic assault in Minnesota or elsewhere or of violating a domestic abuse OFP may possess a pistol unless three years have elapsed since the date of conviction and, during that time, the person has not been convicted of any other assault crime or OFP violation.

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Relief Available Under The Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act

In a proceeding for an OFP under the Domestic Abuse Act, the court may provide the following relief, upon notice and hearing:

  • Restrain the abusing party from committing acts of domestic abuse;
  • Exclude the abusing party from the dwelling which the parties share or from the residence of the petitioner;
  • Exclude the abusing party from a reasonable area surrounding the dwelling or residences;
  • Award temporary custody or establish temporary visitation with regard to minor children of the parties on a basis which gives primary consideration to the safety of the victim and the children;
  • Establish temporary support for minor children or a spouse and order the withholding of support from the income of the person obligated to pay the support;
  • Upon request of the petitioner, provide counseling or other social services for the parties, if married, or if there are minor children;
  • Order the abusing party to participate in treatment or counseling services;
  • Award temporary use and possession of property and make other orders regarding property;
  • Exclude the abusing party from the place of employment of the petitioner or otherwise limit the abusing party’s access to the petitioner at the petitioner’s place of employment;
  • Order the abusing party to pay restitution to the petitioner;
  • Order the continuance of all currently available insurance coverage without change in coverage or beneficiary designation; or
  • Order, in its discretion, other relief it deems necessary for the protection of a family or household member, including orders or directives to the sheriff or constable.

Relief that is granted by the order is for a fixed period of time, not to exceed one year, except when the court determines a longer fixed period is appropriate.

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