Violating an Order for Protection Crime - Minnesota
A civil order preventing someone from having any direct or indirect contact with another party can lead to criminal charges if it is violated. One of the most common no contact orders in Minnesota is an Order for Protection. Under Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act (Minn. Ch. 518B.01), an Order for Protection is issued when an act of alleged domestic abuse is committed by someone against a family or household member. Once issued, which can occur without a court appearance even via an Ex Parte Order for Protection, the respondent (i.e. the party who did the abuse) cannot have any contact with the protected party. And violating an order for protection can lead to serious criminal and collateral consequences.
What Does an Order for Protection Require?
First, it’s important to understand how a party can violate an Order of Protection. The Order will spell out that the respondent cannot have any direct or indirect contact with the protected party. Direct contact means any contact in person via written or oral communications and/or visiting the residence or place of work of the protected party.
Direct contact does not necessarily include incidental contact, such as when both parties are unknowingly shopping at Target and see each other there, so long as the respondent immediately removes him/herself from the area and does not have direct contact beyond this incidental contact. Indirect contact means having a third-party contact the protected party on their behalf, such as having a sibling or child tell the protected party something for them.
If the respondent has direct or indirect contact, they will be charged with violating an order for protection, and proving these cases can often be pretty straightforward. The State merely needs to show:
- that the respondent knew of the existence of the order for protection and
- did an act violating an order for protection.
Consequences for Violating an Order for Protection
If an officer believes a respondent is violating an order for protection, they will arrest the respondent and hold them in custody for at least thirty-six hours. Once a respondent sees a judge for violating an order for protection, the court will then determine if a bond for the respondent’s release is necessary to ensure further violations will not occur.
Finally, the respondent can expect a new Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (“DANCO”) will be issued that is ANOTHER no contact order that may or may not have different no contact provisions that the respondent also must follow.
The seriousness of the criminal charge for violating an order for protection depends on other factors:
- Misdemeanor Violating an Order for Protection – This involves an allegation of a first-time violation of the order for protection and no weapon is involved. The criminal sentence is supposed to include a minimum of three days in custody and a mandate to complete domestic abuse programming or counseling.
- Gross Misdemeanor Violating an Order for Protection – The respondent is alleged to have violated the order and has a prior qualified domestic violence-related offense conviction within the past ten years. The criminal sentence must include a minimum of ten days in custody and the same mandate to complete domestic abuse programming or counseling.
- Felony Violating an Order for Protection – The respondent is alleged to have violated the order and has at least two prior qualified domestic violence-related offense convictions within the past ten years OR commits the alleged violation while possessing a dangerous weapon. The criminal sentence must include a minimum of thirty days in custody and the same mandatory domestic abuse programming or counseling.
Contact North Star Criminal Defense if You Have Been Charged with Violating an Order for Protection
As with any domestic-related criminal records, a conviction can lead to significant collateral consequences, such as difficulty in finding housing, getting a job, losing a professional license, volunteering, etc. Additionally, a unique collateral consequence to violating an order for protection is that the civil court that issued the order can find the respondent in contempt of court for violating it. After all, the act of violating the order is in defiance to a court order, leading to this contempt charge. A finding of contempt of court can lead to custody time as well.
As you can see, violating an order for protection is a very serious crime in Minnesota. Mandatory time in custody, counseling and/or programming, and long-lasting collateral consequences is all at risk. It is imperative to hire the right team – hint: us – that knows how to work through these cases, fight on your behalf, and get you on the right path moving forward.