In Minnesota, a victim of domestic abuse can seek an Order from the District Courts, prohibiting contact from an abuser. Minnesota Statute Section 518B.01 subd. 1 allows a Court to grant an Order for Protection (OFP) upon making a finding of domestic abuse. A finding of domestic abuse can be made when any of the following are committed against a family or household member:
- Physical harm, bodily injury or assault;
- Infliction of fear of imminent physical harm, bodily injury or assault; or
- Terroristic threats, criminal sexual conduct, or interference with an emergency call.
A ‘family or household member’ can include:
- A spouse or former spouse;
- Parent(s) and child(ren);
- Persons related by blood;
- Persons residing together or who have resided together;
- Persons who have a child in common (whether or not they were married or have lived together);
- Man and woman (if the woman is pregnant and the man is the alleged father – regardless of marriage or cohabitation); or
- Persons involved in a significant romantic or sexual relationship.
Other than prohibiting contact, some (but not all) of the relief a Court can grant a victim of domestic abuse includes:
- Excluding the abuser from the victim’s residence, place of employment or education, and a reasonable surrounding area;
- awarding temporary custody, parenting time rights to minor children of the parties;
- ordering counseling or other services for the parties;
- ordering treatment services for an abusing party;
- ordering possession of property, pets,
- prohibiting all contact, whether by phone, email, messaging, or through a third party; and
- ordering restitution (compensation for losses incurred by the victim).
An OFP can be a powerful method of prohibiting contact. If properly enforced, an OFP can be both effective and enduring. Once the OFP is in place, a peace officer can immediately arrest (without warrant) an abuser if there is probable cause to believe that the abuser violated the OFP. Ongoing violations of the OFP by an abuser can result in a felony conviction, and can extend the life of the OFP. Although OFP’s are initially limited to two years in duration, they can be extended for up to fifty (50) years in cases where an abuser violates the OFP or in cases where a victim has had multiple OFP’s against the same abuser. An extension of an OFP is also permitted when a victim can articulate a reasonable fear of physical harm from the abuser, or the abuser has engaged in stalking behavior against the victim, or the abuser is released or about to be released from incarceration. An example of the Court’s power to extend an OFP was demonstrated in a recent Minnesota Court of Appeals decision to uphold a lower court’s extension of an OFP for ten (10) years. The victim had placed multiple OFP’s against the same abuser over the span of several years, but the abuser still purchased property next to the victim’s residence, was caught peering into the victim’s yard, and even built a pole barn next to the victim’s residence to enable the abuser to peer out of the windows at the victim. This behavior was found, by the district court, to constitute a violation of the OFP, even without evidence of a conviction for violating the OFP. The OFP was consequently extended for another ten (10) years. See In the Matter of Sally Ann Ekman v. Lee McFadden Miller. The attorneys at Alithis Family Law have experience in representing parties in Domestic Abuse Order for Protection matters, including before the Court of Appeals.
Please contact Alithis Family Law if you have questions about or need help with a Domestic Abuse Order for Protection.