Domestic violence can impact its victims in many ways: emotionally, physically, financially, and legally. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports that over 10 million adults experience domestic violence annually. For victims of domestic violence or abuse, it can be difficult for parties to leave and receive the help and protection they need.

What is Domestic Abuse?

Under Minnesota law, domestic abuse is an act committed against a family member or household member. This may be violence against a spouse, child, person related by blood, roommate, or a person with a significant romantic relationship. Acts constituting as domestic abuse include:

  • Physical or bodily harm
  • Infliction of fear of imminent physical or bodily harm
  • Terroristic threats
  • Criminal sexual conduct; or
  • Interference with an 911 call

What is an Order for Protection?

While domestic violence can require criminal proceedings, victims may have additional legal protections through an Order for Protection. An order for protection (OFP) is filed in family court and protects those who have been a victim of domestic violence. They prohibit the perpetrator from having direct or in-direct contact with the victim. This means the alleged-abuser cannot have physical contact or communication through text, phone calls, social media messages, or any other means of communication with the victim. They also cannot use third parties to communicate with the victim.

What is the Process for Filing for an Order for Protection?

To file an order for protection, the victim must outline the specifics of their situation. This may include detailed summaries of past incidents. The victim may opt to confidentially file their address and phone number with the court so the respondent will not have access to it. Once filed, the judge will review the paperwork to either issue or dismiss the order. If the order is issued, the respondent can request a hearing within a specific amount of days to dispute the OFP.

If disputed, a court hearing is held and each side will prove their case. The judge will make the final determination if the OFP will remain in place. If the court determines findings for the OFP, the OFP has a maximum expiration of two years but can be renewed once the two-year lapses with certain criteria.

What if the Opposing Party Violates the OFP?

Violations of an Order for Protection are taken seriously in the eyes of the law and constitute a crime. For a first offense, the respondent may face a misdemeanor charge. This can result in up to ninety days in prison and up to a $1,000 fine. If the respondent violation the same OFP within ten years again, the punishment increases to a gross misdemeanor with up to one year in prison and a fine of $3,000. Lastly, if there are two or more violations within a ten-year period, the respondent may be charged with a felony level offense. Felonies carry the harshest punishments with maximums of up to five years in prison and up to a $10,000 fine.

If you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence, consult with an attorney today. While our experience team can help to insure your rights are protected through the legal process, our lawyers can also refer you to additional organizations for emotional and physical support. Contact our office to schedule a confidential consultation at (763) 323-6555 or by submitting an online contact inquiry submission through our website.

Photo of Cynthia J. Brown Cynthia J. Brown

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served…

Cynthia Brown is a founding partner with the Brown Law Offices, P.A. She is an honors graduate of the University of South Dakota and William Mitchell College of Law. Cynthia was admitted to practice in 1998.

After graduating from law school, Cynthia served as the law clerk to the Honorable Timothy R. Bloomquist, retired Chief Judge of Minnesota’s Tenth Judicial District. Upon completing her clerkship, Cynthia practiced with a well-known firm in Cambridge, Minnesota. She founded the Brown Law Offices, P.A. in 2003.

Cynthia has handled a wide variety of family law matters throughout Minnesota, including divorce, custody, child protective services, orders for protection and harassment restraining orders.

Early in her career, Cynthia served as a prosecutor, public defender and criminal investigator. In addition to her family practice, Cynthia routinely represents clients facing criminal charges such as DWI, assault, theft and criminal sexual misconduct.

Cynthia founded the Amigos de Guatemala Foundation in 2007. She is a former Board Member and President of the Foundation.

When she is not practicing law, Cynthia enjoys scrap-booking, soap-making, ATV riding and spending time with family.

Areas of Practice
  • Divorce
  • Custody
  • Child Protective Services
  • Restraining Orders
  • Criminal Defense
  • Estate Planning
Bar Admission
  • Minnesota State Bar, 1998
  • William Mitchell College of Law, 1998
  • University of South Dakota, 1995
Joined Firm
  • 2003
Professional Associations & Activities
  • Minnesota State Bar Association
  • Presenter, Various CLE Courses
  • Panel Attorney, Anoka County County Family Law Clinic
  • Monthly Columnist, Minnesota Lawyer Newspaper
  • Author, Family Law Forum
  • Author, Divorce Magazine