Harassment, in the legal sense, has a relatively narrow definition. Victims of harassment have an opportunity to seek a Harassment Restraining Order, which precludes further contact, or acts of harassment, by the harassing party. Every county handles HRO hearings a bit differently. As a result, it is important to speak with harassment attorneys in Minnesota who are familiar with the process in your area.
The Definition of “Harassment”
The law provides for a very specific definition of “harassment.” It is important to understand how harassment is defined, because merely “offensive” or “juvenile” conduct does not necessarily qualify as harassment under the relevant statute.
Minnesota law defines harassment as:
- A single incident of physical or sexual assault;
- 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 the actor and the intended target;
- Targeted residential picketing; or
- A pattern of attending public events after being notified that the actor’s presence at the event is harassing to another.
Most often, questions concerning whether acts were “repeated,” or whether they had a “substantial adverse effect” on someone are front and center.
Remedies for Victims of Harassment
The most common remedy for victims of harassment involves the issuance of a Harassment Restraining Order under Minnesota law. An HRO makes it a crime for the harassing party to engage in further acts of harassment.
There are many forms of relief that harassment restraining order lawyers in Minnesota can help make available to the victim of harassment, including:
- An order preventing further acts of harassment;
- No contact provisions; and
- Prevention of the harassing party within the victim’s home or place of employment.
Harassment Restraining Orders in Minnesota are typically in place for a period of two years.
Paperwork Necessary to Obtain an HRO
Two pleadings are required in seeking a Harassment Restraining Order: (1) a Petition; and (2) an Affidavit.
An HRO Petition alleges, generally, that an individual has engaged in harassing conduct and specifies the relief sought by the victim of harassment, while the Affidavit provides all the factual details surrounding the allegations of harassment.
How a Harassment Restraining Order is Issued
Individuals who seek a Harassment Restraining Order in Minnesota typically file their paperwork with the Court without notice to the other side. After the judge has an opportunity to review the paperwork, a decision will be made concerning the issuance of a Temporary Harassment Restraining Order.
In situations in which a Temporary HRO is issued, the sheriff’s office will serve the offending party with a copy of the Order. If the party against whom the Temporary Harassment Restraining Order is issued objects to the HRO, they may submit a request for a trial on the issue.
The burden of proof for the issuance of an HRO is the “preponderance of the evidence” standard (more likely than not that an act of harassment has occurred).
HRO Violations as a Crime in Minnesota
In Minnesota, it is a crime to violate a Harassment Restraining Order. First-time offenders will face a misdemeanor charge, which can result in a fine of up to $1,000.00, along with 90 days of incarceration. These types of crimes are “enhanceable offenses,” which means a second or third violation can lead to a more serious gross misdemeanor, or felony, charge.