|What is harassment?|
Harassment is defined as repeated, intrusive, or unwanted acts, words or gestures, that are intended to adversely affect the safety, or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between the actor and the intended target.
|What is a harassment restraining order and how does it protect me? |
A Harassment Restraining Order is a court order forbidding the Respondent from harassing and/or making contact with the Petitioner and/or any minor children in the home. The term "Petitioner" refers to the person seeking the harassment order. The term "Respondent" refers to the alleged harassing party. The Petitioner first obtains a temporary order which is effective until a court hearing which is held within 14 days. At this time, the courts meets with both parties to determine if the temporary order should be extended for up to two years.
Petitioners may request:
| - Respondent have no contact with the Petitioner (ie; in person, through third persons, by phone, mail, etc.)|
| - No harassment|
| - Stay away from Petitioner's home or work|
| - Other specific kinds of relief may be considered|
|Do I qualify for a harassment restraining order? |
You qualify if:
| - You live in Cook County (you file in the county where you live)|
| - You are being harassed (as defined in the Statute)|
| - You have the full name and address of the person who is harassing you|
Orders can be obtained for adult and/or on behalf of minor children if there has been incidents of harassment towards you and/or your children.
|How can I get a harassment order? |
The Family Court office in the Courthouse has forms available. Filing is daily (Monday-Friday) from 8:00 a.m to 4:00 p.m. (excluding holidays). Bring with you:
- A picture of the Respondent, if possible
- A home and work address of the Respondent
- Written dates and notes concerning the harassment covering the last year (from the most recent incident going backwards)
A court worker will present the written information to a Judge. The Judge decides whether to sign you order based on the harassment laws. If signed, the papers are filed with the Family Court Clerk. Copies will be made of your order. One copy will be mailed to you, another will be forwarded to the Sheriff's Office for service on the Respondent.
|How is it served? |
The Sheriff will personally serve the papers on the Respondent.
If the papers need to be served outside of Cook, the Court Administrator's Office will fax or mail them to the appropriate county for service on the Respondent.
There is a fee for filing a harassment order of $245.00, unless you meet low income guidelines, or the harassment falls under the Stalking statute for harassment.
There is no service fee for serving the Respondent by the Sheriff's Office, as long as the Respondent lives in Minnesota.
If you or your minor child(ren) are being harassed by a minor, you can file on behalf of your minor child(ren) against the other minor's parent or legal guardian.
|What happens in court? |
You and the Respondent will appear in Court. You may bring an attorney to the court hearing but it is not required. Your petition will be considered and the court may:
| - Issue the harassment order for up to two years or|
| - Dismiss the order or|
| - Continue the court hearing to a new date if the Respondent has not been served (and publish notice of the court date or attempt of service) or|
| - Have a trial if the Respondent denies all allegations or|
| - Issue a Mutual Harassment Order if the Judge feels harassment is occurring from both parties|
|NOTE: You should come to court prepared with any adult witnesses or evidence.|
YOU MUST ALWAYS APPEAR IN COURT
|What if the Respondent disobeys your harassment order? |
| - Call 911 immediately|
| - Make sure the police make a report of the incident|
| - Call your City Attorney (in the city where the incident occurred) and tell them you want to press charges|
|How do I dismiss or change my permanent harassment order? |
| - It is important to have your order legally dismissed if you no longer need it|
| - Violation of a Harassment Order is a misdemeanor. It is a gross misdemeanor if there is a second violation within five years.|
| - For police assistance call 911|