From domestic violence to stranger-induced assault, a variety of encounters leave Minnesotans fearing for their safety. Thankfully, the state offers several countermeasures designed to restore security. Two main opportunities for victims: orders for protection and harassment restraining orders. Although similar in many respects, these options hold several key differences, as outlined below:

Order for Protection (OFP)

An order for protection’s primary objective is to protect the issuer from an abusive blood relative, significant other, former significant other, or roommate. The petitioner must have either suffered physical harm, the threat of physical harm, or forced sexual contact. If the OFP is granted, the alleged abuser may be removed from his or her home. Additionally, temporary custody decisions may be made based on the OFP. The petitioner can request for guns to be removed from the offender’s home. Violations are entered into the OFP State System, and thus subject to police access whenever a 911 call is made.

Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)

No relationship is required to establish a harassment restraining order. The petitioner, however must have suffered physical or sexual assault, or more than one unwanted act (including speech) intended to harm his or her safety or privacy.

A key difference between HROs and OFPs: with HROs, petitioners cannot request for gun removal or alter custody arrangements. Furthermore, while law enforcement officials can forcibly remove offenders from premises following successful filing of an OFP, HROs merely grant them the power to restrict abusers from returning home.

Choosing Between OFP and HRO

Ready to file an OFP or HRO? Your decision will largely depend on how you know the abuser, and how you anticipate the action will impact that person. Typically, law enforcement officials take OFPs more seriously than HROs. In most cases, if the victim is related to or has lived with the perpetrator, an OFP is the preferred option.

Both OFPs and HROs can be granted without a hearing, so take action today if you believe that either approach is warranted. A skilled Minnesota attorney can help you navigate the filing process and achieve the protection you deserve.

An OFP or HRO could be your ticket to a safer and more secure life in Minnesota. Seek support from the Brown Law Offices, P.A.

The Family Law Show returns, with a summary of the issues involved in obtaining, or defending against, an Order for Protection or Harassment Restraining Order.

The conduct giving rise to either Order may impact litigants in three types of cases: a civil case, a family case and a criminal case – often concurrently.

Topics discussed in this podcast include Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act, the impact an OFP or Restraining Order may have in family court, the standards and procedures involved in obtaining an Order for Protection, the standards and procedures involved in obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order and the criminal consequences that may stem from violating either type of Order.


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In this video segment we discusses the nature harassment restraining orders in Minnesota, including: (1) the legal definition of “harassment;” (2) the process involved in securing an HRO; and (3) the remedies available to someone has been a victim of harassment.

The law provides the opportunity for someone who believes they have been the victim of harassment to seek a protective order – referred to as a “harassment restraining order” or “HRO.”

An HRO is something that will preclude the harasser from being present at one’s home or employer, or having ongoing communication with the victim of harassment.

An HRO also applies to situations where a litigant has been the victim of some sort of assault, but they don’t have the familial relationship required to secure an Order for Protection.

“Harassment,” as defined by law, involves repeated, unwanted acts designed to invade your rights, safety, privacy, or security. The acts must have a “substantial adverse effect” on the intended victim.

The process beings on an ex parte basis, without notice to the other side. If the court accepts the allegations within the initial petition, a judge will issue a temporary harassment restraining order, and then set the matter on for a hearing.

At the hearing, testimony and documentary evidence presented. Both sides will be subject to cross examination. If the court finds in favor of the Petitioner, a more long term harassment restraining order, typically two years in length, may be issued.