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 law firm of Barna, Guzy & Steffen, Ltd.