Harassment is a crime that can happen to anyone – and the law recognizes that it’s a problem. While not the same as a domestic violence protection order, a harassment order of protection in Minnesota does seek to provide a legal remedy to someone who is being harassed.
What is a harassment restraining order, who is eligible for one, and most importantly, what can happen if it’s violated? Read on to find out all you need to know about harassment restraining orders in Minnesota.
Harassment: What Is It?
Under the law in Minnesota, harassment takes place when someone knowingly engages in acts or behaviors that adversely impact the person who is the focus of those acts or behaviors. Under the law, if the victim is made to feel a certain way on purpose by the defendant, then it constitutes harassment:
It doesn’t have to be shown by prosecutors that the defendant wanted to cause someone to feel one of the above ways. It can be surmised that someone may be found guilty of harassment when they did something to someone else that was mistaken as harmful. But they do have to knowingly engage in said behavior to constitute harassment.
What Types of Things Are Considered Harassment?
Acts such as these can be considered harassment under the law:
- Directly or indirectly intending to injure someone, their rights, or their property
- Using the information of another person to solicit sex with someone else
- Following someone through electronic means or in person
- Falsely accusing an officer of misconduct
- Returning to the property of another person without their permission
- Sending correspondence of packages repeatedly to someone else
- Constantly texting or calling another person
- Causing someone’s phone to continuously ring by calling
What Are Harassment Penalties?
It is a crime in Minnesota to harass another person. In general, it is a gross misdemeanor crime that can lead to up to 12 months in jail and fines of up to $3,000. In some circumstances, it can be considered aggravated, in which case the penalties can increase quite substantially – up to five years behind bars and fines of as much as $10,000.
Aggravating factors include things such as:
- Targeting someone based on their religion, sex, age, race, sexual orientation, or national origin
- Using a dangerous weapon
- Using harassment to try to influence court proceedings
If you are convicted of harassment within 10 years of being convicted for a domestic assault offense or have more than two domestic assault convictions, then you can go to prison for up to 10 years and be made to pay fines of up to $10,000.
Harassment Restraining Orders
In Minnesota, a person who feels as if they are the target of harassment can seek a harassment restraining order. This order will prohibit the person named in it from contacting the victim through any means or stalking or harassing them.
Parties normally eligible for harassment restraining orders include those who:
- Have been victims of physical assaults
- Have been victims of sexual assaults
- Have been followed
- Have been stalked
- Have been victims of non-consensual private sexual image sharing
- Have been victims of threats or blackmail
- Have received unwanted repeated texts or phone calls
For regular orders for protection in Minnesota that are related to domestic violence, a person has to have some sort of household or family relationship to qualify. However, harassment restraining orders do not require the victim to prove they have a relationship with the person harassing them. In most cases, they simply must demonstrate that behavior has a clear pattern of harassment.
Also, actions that prompt a harassment restraining order may cause criminal charges to be filed against the person perpetrating them. So, for example, someone who is stalking another person and putting them in fear for their safety may also face criminal charges for that behavior. However, it’s important to note that a harassment restraining order itself is a civil order, not a matter that is decided in criminal court.
Violating a Harassment Restraining Order
If someone violates a harassment restraining order in Minnesota, then they face serious consequences. What consequences depend on how many times the order has been violated.
This is a misdemeanor that can lead to up to three months in jail and fines of $1,000.
A gross misdemeanor, this can lead to up to 12 months in jail and fines of as much as $3,000.
Third Offense or More
After the second offense, you may face felony charges that can result in up to five years in prison and fines as much as $10,000.
About the Author:
Christopher Keyser is an AV-Preeminent rated criminal and DWI defense attorney based in Minneapolis who is known for fighting aggressively for his clients and utilizing innovative tactics to get the most positive results. He has been featured in numerous media outlets due to the breadth and depth of his knowledge and named a Certified Specialist in Criminal Law by the Minnesota Bar Association. Mr. Keyser is Lead Counsel rated, and he has received recognition for his criminal law work from Avvo, Expertise, Super Lawyers, The National Trial Lawyers, and more.