In Minnesota, Harassment is defined as:
- A single incident of sexual assault
- A single incident of harassment
- A single incident of nonconsensual dissemination of private sexual images
- Repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between the actor and the intended target;
- Targeted residential picketing; or
- A pattern of attending public events after being notified that the Respondent’s presence is harassing to another.
Obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)
A party obtains a Harassment Restraining Order by filing with the court paperwork detailing the harassment that has occurred. The court reviews the affidavit and can grant an Ex Parte Harassment Restraining Order. If the court grants the Ex Parte Harassment Restraining Order the Respondent needs to be personally served. Typically a local sheriff’s department can complete this. Once the Respondent is served, the Respondent has 20 days to request a hearing.
If Respondent requests a hearing, the court may first request or order the parties to attend mediation. At mediation a qualified neutral may try and assist the Petitioner and Respondent to try and reach an agreement to resolve the dispute without an evidentiary hearing. There may be some situations where mediation is not appropriate, for example if there is a history of domestic abuse or sexual assault. If mediation is not successful, or mediation is not appropriate, the court will schedule an evidentiary hearing (trial).
At the evidentiary hearing, the court will hear testimony from the Petitioner and Respondent, as well as testimony from any witnesses. The court may also accept other relevant evidence.
If the court grants an Ex Parte Harassment Restraining Order or a Harassment Restraining Order, the court may file an order that requires Respondent to cease or avoid harassing Petitioner or orders Respondent to have no contact with the Petitioner. The Harassment Restraining Order is in place for a fixed period of time up to two years. Under certain circumstances, a Harassment Restraining Order may be in place for up to 50 years.
The process of obtaining a Harassment Restraining Order is a civil process. A violation of a term or condition of the Harassment Restraining Order is a crime. The issuance of a Harassment Restraining Order does not prevent criminal charges from being filed separately for the underlying acts of harassment.
For more information contact Tuft, Lach, Jerabek & O’Connell, PLLC at 651-771-0050 to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced family law attorneys.