In Minnesota, individuals at risk or under threat can seek legal protection through specific court orders. Two commonly sought orders are the Order of Protection and the Restraining Order. While these terms are sometimes used interchangeably in conversation, they have distinct legal meanings and applications in Minnesota.
If you are considering seeking either of these orders or if someone has filed one against you, understanding the differences between them is important.
Order of Protection
An Order of Protection is specifically designed for cases involving domestic abuse. If you or someone you know is facing threats, physical harm or any form of abuse from a family or household member, an Order of Protection can help. This order commands the abuser to stop the harmful actions and can also prevent them from entering your home or place of work.
To obtain an Order of Protection, you need to file a petition detailing the abuse with the court. Once you’ve filed, the court will assess the situation. In urgent cases, the court may grant an immediate, temporary order even before notifying the alleged abuser. A hearing date is then set where both parties can present their sides, after which the court can issue a long-term order that can last for up to two years.
On the other hand, a Restraining Order, also known as a Harassment Restraining Order, addresses situations outside of familial or household relationships. If someone is stalking you, threatening you or repeatedly acting in ways that cause you fear or significant distress, you might seek a Restraining Order against them.
The process involves filing a petition with the court detailing the harassment. The court then determines if the described actions qualify as harassment under Minnesota law. If they do, the court can issue a temporary restraining order. A hearing usually follows, where both parties can share their accounts, leading to a decision on a more extended restraining order. If the judge deems it necessary, they can issue a restraining order for life.
If you feel that you need an extra layer of protection, it is important to identify which order suits your situation best to ensure your safety and well-being. Always prioritize your safety and know that the legal system provides tools to help you.