What is a Harassment Restraining Order?

If a person is being harassed, intimated or threatened by someone, Minnesota law allows that person to apply for a Harassment Restraining Order, or a HRO.  A person can obtain a HRO so long as the other person’s negative behavior meets the definition of harassment.  Harassment is defined as:

  1. A single incident of physical or sexual assault.
  2. Repeated incidents of intrusive or unwanted acts, words or gestures that have a substantial adverse effect or are intended to have a substantial adverse effect on the safety, security or privacy of another, regardless of the relationship between you and the alleged harasser.
  3. Targeted residential picketing, which includes: marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons directed solely at a particular residential building in a manner that adversely affects the safety, security, or privacy of an occupant of the building, and marching, standing, or patrolling by one or more persons which prevents an occupant of a residential building from gaining access to or exiting from the property on which the residential building is located.
  4. A pattern of attending public events after being notified that one’s presence is harassing to another.

Having a HRO prevents a person from contacting them whether in person, by email or social media, and by third party contact.  A HRO does not build a brick wall around a person protecting them from that person, although a person violating a HRO can face criminal charges so a HRO can be powerful tool to protect one’s safety.

The paperwork to apply for a HRO can be found through the Minnesota courts webpage at http://www.mncourts.gov/Help-Topics/GetForms.aspx?cat=Harassment%2f01_Restraining+Order%2fPacket_Petitioner%27s+Harassment+Packet.

A person applying for a Harassment Restraining Order likely will have to appear at a court hearing to explain to a judge why a HRO is needed.  The person who is being accused of being harassing is going to be at the hearing as well defending himself or herself.  A person who anticipates applying for a HRO or a person fighting against a HRO should give serious thought to consulting with a family law attorney to discuss the paperwork that needs to be completed to apply for a HRO and how to prepare for the court hearing which is a short trial.  Preparation is important in these cases.

Jessica Sterle

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