Note: This is a Guest Blog by Joe Irby.
Sometimes, emotions flare up, situations get tense, and people lose control. When this happens, a person might resort to violence. Although it is no excuse (we are supposed to be rational people who are in control of ourselves), it does happen.
Typically, assaults occur within domestic settings (between spouses, live-in couples, parents and children, etc.) Assaults can also happen in the midst of a bar brawl or other argument between people out in public. There are hundreds of reasons why an assault might happen. Either way, assault can be a very serious crime in certain circumstances.
Minnesota law, in Minnesota Statutes section 609.02, has defined assault as:
- an act done with intent to cause fear in another of immediate bodily harm or death; or
- the intentional infliction of or attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another.
Place yourself in the shoes of the victim. The victim of the assault has been injured or is under the constant threat of injury. The accused has been arrested for assault and has bailed out of jail while awaiting his trial (which is a couple of months away). In the meantime, the assaulter is constantly stalking, harassing, or threatening the victim. The victim is constantly worried about a repeat assault by the defendant. The victim wants to take measures to protect himself, so he files for an order for protection.
What is an order for protection (OFP)?
Minnesota allows a victim of an assault, especially domestic assaults, to seek an OFP. Under Minnesota law, a victim who is granted an OFP may restrain the abuser from committing further acts of domestic abuse, living in the dwelling with the victim, or coming within a reasonable area surrounding the dwelling or residence. The abuser may be ordered to stay away from the victim’s place of work as well as refrain from contacting the victim in any way.
In domestic situations, the court may order the abuser to pay for the victim’s necessary living expenses, award temporary custody to the victim, and require the abuser to attend counseling.
When a court issues an OFP, it looks at a number of different factors, such as:
- The nature of the relationship between the victim and the accused
- The length of the relationship
- The facts leading up to the request for the order, whether or not there is a substantial likelihood that the act will reoccur
- The history of violence of the accused
The OFP may be issued ex parte, meaning that the accused doesn’t have to show up in court to argue against its issuance. Typically, this happens in emergency circumstances. An OFP, however, does not become effective until it is served against the accused. Essentially, if the accused cannot be found (served) after the order is issued, the order is no good against him.
Orders for protection act to keep the quarreling parties apart until the court can sort out the facts and the details. Since these orders don’t last forever, the order gives the parties some time to “cool off” or allow their interests to drift elsewhere. Often it is best to keep everyone away from each other in the meantime.
Joe Irby is a 2012 graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School in Lansing, Michigan, and law clerk for Twin Cities Law Firm, LLC. Joe writes on a variety of matters ranging from criminal to business law.