Most of us know generally that a harassment restraining order (aka, an “HRO”) is essentially a court order prohibiting a person from bothering us. Beyond that, details may be murky. But if you or someone you love is being subjected to harassment, it is helpful to know more. Let’s fill in the gaps . . . .
1. What Counts as harassment?
Subject to some exceptions, harassment (under Minnesota law) is generally repeated, unwanted acts, words, or gestures that are intended to have a negative impact on the target. There is case law fleshing out some of the details left open to interpretation by state statute, Minn. Stat. 609.749. Some examples of “harassment” are:
- Repeatedly calling a person
- Repeatedly following a person
- Sending unwanted letters to a person
- Repeatedly monitoring a person’s whereabouts (i.e., stalking)
It is important that the target tell the harasser very clearly to STOP their conduct and communicate to them that their behavior is unwanted. If you can do this in writing, that’s best. It is good to also keepa written record of all the times you verbally told the harasser to stop.
2. Who is eligible for an HRO?
Technically, anyone can get a harassment restraining order (if the proper procedures are followed). You do not need to have a specific relationship with the harasser like you do for an Order for Protection (OFP). A parent, guardian or stepparent can get a harassment restraining order for a child. As of May 23, 2022, when Minnesota’s HRO statute was expanded by the legislature, emancipated minors can now seek and obtain an HRO themselves—without needing the assistance of a parent, stepparent, or guardian. The emancipated minor can show the court that they are emancipated by demonstrating that they are living apart from any parents, they manage their own financial affairs, and that the parents have (at the least, through their conduct) given up control over the minor.
3. How does a person get an HRO?
To obtain an HRO, the target (or, per above, a specific person on the target’s behalf) must petition the state district court for the order. As with most legal proceedings, there are specific allegations which must be made and proved in court. And there are specific documents which must be filed in court, and a procedure to follow. The full details are beyond the scope of this article but there are helpful resources on the Minnesota Judicial Branch’s website. Various organizations offer free legal help for victims of harassment, for those who qualify (usually through income guidelines).
4. How long does the protection last?
How long an HRO will be effective for depends on the circumstances. However, there are some general rules and guidelines to help in understanding typical duration. First, if the court grants you an HRO upon submission of your petition and pending a hearing on the matter, that temporary HRO will last until the hearing on your petition. If, after the hearing, the court finds that you have proven up your petition with evidence, the HRO granted to you will generally last two years. In extreme cases, however, an HRO can be granted for up to fifty years.
If you or someone you love wants to explore legal steps to end harassment, please contact Streit Law LLC today for a free consultation or to retain Angela. Please visit www.streitlaw.net or call 651-237-3815.