Fighting an Order for Protection

If you’ve just been served with an Order for Protection in Minnesota, your world is potentially flipped upside down. It is critical to understand what this Order is, how it immediately impacts you and your daily life, and what your options are for fighting an Order for Protection. 

What is an Order for Protection?

An Order for Protection is a court order preventing the respondent from having contact (either in person or via communications) with the protected party. Any violation of the Order results in the criminal charge of violating an order for protection. It is this possible criminal charge that is the incentive to abide by the Order.

The Order for Protection is only available when the parties are considered ‘family or household members,’ which is defined by statute to include: spouses, parents, children, former significant others, people who have resided together or currently reside together, persons who have a child together, and persons in a significant romantic or sexual relationship. The person seeking the Order must allege ‘domestic abuse,’ which is also defined by statute and includes assault, sex crimes, and threats of violence. 

Upon receiving the petition for an Order for Protection, the Court will either set a hearing within 14 days or issue an ex parte order if the petition alleges an immediate and present danger of domestic abuse. If an ex parte order has been issued, the respondent, then, must seek a hearing within a tight deadline or else the order remains in effect.

The Order for Protection prevents the respondent from having any contact with the protected party. This often means that the respondent cannot live in the same residence and must vacate the premises immediately. Simply put, the respondent is often kicked out of their home with little warning and left scrambling to find a place to live. And if the parties have children in common, this often means a disruption in the parent-child relationship as the respondent is removed from the household where the children reside. Additionally, the respondent is often only permitted one ‘escorted visit with a cop’ back to the residence to grab their clothing, toiletries, essentials, etc. 

The Order further precludes the respondent from owning or possessing any firearms. The respondent must relinquish control of any to local law enforcement or a third party. And this remains in effect at least until the Order is terminated.

Needless to say, a respondent to the Order for Protection has immediate and lasting consequences to deal with upon the issuance of the Order – and this often occurs without a hearing where the Court would consider the full story, rather than just an affidavit telling the petitioner’s side only. This is why fighting an order for protection is so critical – there is so much at stake. And, unfortunately, courts tend to err on the side of granting the Order on cases that seem to lack the necessary evidence to support the Order.

Fighting an Order for Protection

It is important to understand at the outset that fighting an order for protection is more than just trying to defeat the Order from being issued. Fighting an Order for Protection can also mean fighting to carve out exceptions to the no contact order that would permit contact regarding any children, finances, and/or daily affairs. Such carve-outs are all but necessary when the parties are a family unit so as to ensure the respondent can still be present and active in the children’s lives, despite the order in place.

In the event an ex parte Order was issued, the respondent must file a request for a hearing. The Minnesota Courts website has forms online to follow if you choose to pursue this route on your own. After requesting and having a hearing granted, the real fight begins. 

At the evidentiary hearing, the petitioner is obligated to prove to the court the existence of domestic abuse justifying the issuance of the Order. The respondent has a right to challenge this evidence, cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence and/or witnesses, too. Thus, developing a strong and thoughtful defense strategy is critical. 

Given the complexity of the process, the evidentiary fight, and to ensure your best arguments get presented, hiring an Order for Protection attorney that is familiar with this quasi-family/quasi-criminal process is the smart first step to building your defense strategy. The North Star team has ample experience fighting orders for protection. The work begins with the client to do our due diligence before the hearing to gather all forms of evidence – such as texts, emails, figuring out possible witnesses, etc. Then the strategy is formulated based on a detailed analysis and in discussions with the client. Once finalized, the legal strategy is implemented both in advance of and at the hearing to accomplish the goals for each client.

If you find yourself served with an order for protection, you must act now. The North Star team is ready to give you the fight you need to combat this order for protection.