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Harassment Restraining Order
The law in MN Statutes § 609.748 allows a person who is being harassed to request a Harassment Restraining Order from the court. However, there are other practical steps you could take before asking the court for this protection. While these steps may or may not take care of the problem completely, the judge will want to know what steps have been taken to resolve the issues before asking the court to get involved in your situation.
Read the steps to take for protection from harassing behavior.
A victim does not have to report the harassment to the police to ask for a court order. Depending on the facts, there may be a filing fee to start a harassment case, which may be waived if you qualify based on low-income for a fee waiver (IFP).
What to Do if You Are Being Harassed
If a person is being harassed by another person by a single act of physical or sexual assault, or repeated intrusive or unwanted acts, words or gestures intended to negatively affect the safety, security or privacy of that person, the person being harassed may file for a restraining order in Harassment Court.
Issues that CANNOT be handled in Harassment Court include:
- custody and visitation of minor children (handled in Family Court);
However, if the relationship between the person being harassed and the harasser is:
- a blood relative;
- live together now, or have lived together in the past;
- have a child together or are pregnant together; or
- are or were involved in a romantic or sexual relationship
the harassment includes:
- physical harm;
- threats of physical harm;
- forced sexual contact; or
- any sexual contact with a minor,
then the person being harassed may able to ask for an Order for Protection, where custody and visitation can be decided on a temporary basis.
The person being harassed should talk with an advocate or the Domestic Abuse Service Center about the possibility of getting an Order for Protection, which may offer more legal protections for the victim.
Learn more about the requirements of an Order for Protection from Abuse v. Harassment Restraining Order.
Protection from Harassment with a Court Order
If someone has repeatedly made unwanted acts, words, or gestures toward you, which cause, or are intended to cause substantial adverse effect upon your safety, security or privacy, you can ask the court for a Harassment Restraining Order. Please read the law on Harassment Orders at MN Statutes § 609.748. Getting a court order does not guarantee that harassing behavior will stop, but it can help to:
- prevent further harassment;
- order the Respondent not to contact you and your family at any time; and
- allow the police to arrest the Respondent without a warrant for violations of the restraining order.
If you start a harassment case, you are called the "Petitioner" and the person who committed the acts is called the "Respondent."
To start a harassment case in the Hennepin County District Court:
- you or the Respondent must live in Hennepin County OR
- the harassment must have occurred in Hennepin County;
- the Respondent has physically or sexually assaulted you (only one incident is required); OR
- the Respondent has done acts, words, or gestures on at least two different days, AND
the actions have caused, or were intended to cause, substantial adverse effect upon your safety, security or privacy
Asking for a Harassment Order
People who need help with asking for a Harassment Restraining Order in Hennepin County should go to the 4th District Court Self-Help Center on the Public Service Level (2nd floor) of the Hennepin County Govt. Center in downtown Minneapolis.
|8:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Monday - Friday
IMPORTANT! Please arrive at least 1.5 hours BEFORE closing time if you want to start working on the harassment forms paperwork.
Staff and volunteers can help with the paperwork (Affidavit, Petition and proposed Order). A "signing judge" will review your Petition and Affidavit and will decide if a two-year Harassment Order should be issued and whether a hearing will be required.
The Judge will sign an order that does one of three things:
- Dismissal – meaning that the incidents you described in your papers do not rise to the level of harassment. In order to re-file, there will need to be a new incident or incidents that you believe are harassment.
- Denial – meaning that a temporary order is not granted, but you may request a hearing to present your case to the judge.
- Harassment Restraining Order – meaning that a two-year is granted without a hearing.
Responding to a Harassment Order
If a temporary restraining Order was issued, the Respondent may request a hearing in writing within 45 days from when the temporary restraining order was issued.
If a temporary restraining Order was NOT issued, the parties may request a hearing within 20 days from when the Petition was served.
Harassment hearings are usually scheduled on Tuesdays in the Hennepin County District Court. We encourage you to talk to a lawyer about your legal rights.
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