An Order for Protection (OFP) is a civil order that primarily prohibits a respondent party’s contact with the petitioning party following an incident of domestic abuse and restrains the respondent from committing further domestic abuse. Under the Domestic Abuse Act found in Minn. Stat. Sec. 518B.01 (2013), domestic abuse means any of the following acts by a family or household member: physical harm, bodily injury or assault; the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm bodily harm, or assault; terroristic threats; criminal sexual conduct; or interference with an emergency call. A person who commits any of those offenses can be charged with a crime if the petitioner or a witness calls the police. If the police were not involved initially but the respondent violates the OFP, the respondent can be charged with the crime of violating the order.
It’s advisable for a petitioner to seek an OFP immediately after an incident of domestic abuse because the reviewing judicial officer must determine if there imminent danger. Ideally, a petitioner should make a police report, but it is not required for filing a petition and affidavit for an OFP. A certified copy of a police report and the testimony of responding police officers can be very useful at an OFP evidentiary hearing, should the respondent demands that the petitioner prove domestic abuse occurred. Proof of police involvement is also helpful in divorce or custody proceedings where domestic violence has been an issue.
An OFP is an enforceable court order that aims to protect victims of domestic violence. A helpful 2014 amendment to the Domestic Abuse Act now requires the state court administrator to develop a uniform OFP form that will facilitate consistent OFP enforcement statewide. There is no court filing fee for a petition for an emergency, temporary ex parte OFP, and some courts offer free services to petitioners to assist in drafting the necessary paperwork. However, when it’s time to go to the court hearing, you should have an attorney by your side to advocate for the issuance of a permanent OFP, which will be in effect for up to two years, and can contain other types of necessary relief, such as child support, possession of a family pet, and a parenting time schedule.
If you would like more information about Orders for Protection, please contact Wilson Law Group for a consultation with one of our civil or family law attorneys.