In Minnesota, victims of domestic abuse can obtain an Order for Protection against a family or household member, or other certain individuals. An Order for Protection, commonly called an OFP, is a court order that aims to protect a victim of domestic abuse. An OFP also prevents the abusive party from having any contact, direct or indirect, with the victim. This can include contact through email, text messages, or social media, including social media such as Facebook. A person who violates an OFP risks severe consequences, including criminal charges.
To obtain an OFP, the victim of domestic abuse must file a Petition, along with an affidavit, detailing the abuse. The domestic abuse alleged must be recent as the OFP is only granted if an emergency exists. A parent can also file an OFP on behalf of their minor children (for example, if there is an allegation of physical abuse or sexual abuse against the children). A copy of the form for Order for Protection can be found here on the Minnesota court website. If you are unable to file for an OFP because you do not meet the definition of a “family member” under Minnesota law, you may still be able to proceed under Minnesota harassment laws. Check back for a future post about Harassment Retraining Orders.
Once a person files for an OFP, a judge may grant an Emergency Order for Protection. This temporary OFP lasts until there is a formal hearing, where the accused person can dispute the allegations. After the hearing, if a judge finds domestic abuse has in fact occurred, the judge will issue a permanent OFP that can last up for a period of two years. If acts of domestic abuse are not proven, however, the Emergency OFP is dismissed.
Domestic abuse includes not only actual physical contact, but also fear of imminent or immediate physical harm, such as threats or threatening gestures. Domestic abuse also includes interfering with an emergency call to the authorities. Pushing a person against a wall, threatening to hit, or even leaving a threatening note may all constitute domestic abuse.
Our office has handled many OFP cases, both on behalf of victims of domestic abuse and those accused of domestic abuse. Our office also represents those criminally charged with violating an OFP or those who want to appeal a Minnesota Order for Protection. For more information, contact our Minnesota Domestic Abuse attorneys. The link to the Domestic Abuse Statute is Minn. Stat. 518B.01.