Jurisdiction in and Around the State of Minnesota
An application for relief under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act may be filed in any of the following locales: (1) the court having jurisdiction over dissolution actions or the county of residence of either party; (2) the county in which a pending or completed family court proceeding involving the parties or their minor children was brought; or (3) the county in which the alleged domestic violence or domestic abuse occurred. There are no residency requirements that must be met in order to petition for an Order for Protection. Actions under the Domestic Abuse Act of Minnesota are to be given priority by the court in matters of docketing. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 3.
Filing Fees in Minnesota
The filing fees for an Order for Protection (OFP) under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act are specifically waived for the petitioner of the OFP. Further, the administrator for the court, the sheriff and other local policing agencies, and corrections officers must, without charge to the petitioner, perform their duties relating to service of process. Corrections officers include probation officers, court services officers, parole officers, and employees of jails or correctional facilities. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 3a.
Minnesota Service of Process Law
The Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act requires that the petition and any order issued under the Act be served upon the respondent personally; thus, personal service is generally a requirement. However, in lieu of personal service of an Order for Protection (OFP), a law enforcement officer may serve a respondent with a short form notification and the respondent must report to the nearest sheriff’s office or county court to obtain a copy of the OFP. If personal service cannot be made, the court may order service of the petition and any order by alternative means or by publication. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subds. 8 and 8a. Service of a petition under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act may be made upon an employee at the employee’s place of employment or upon a student at a post-secondary institution. Minn. Stat. § 543.20.
County Sheriff Assistance of Petitioner in Service or Execution of Order for Protection in the State of Minnesota
When a judge issues an Order for Protection (OFP) upon request of the petitioner, the judge must order the sheriff or constable to accompany the petitioner and assist the petitioner in obtaining possession of the dwelling or residence. The sheriff or constable also must assist in execution or service of the OFP. If the respondent is not in the county where the application for relief was brought, the sheriff must forward the pleadings necessary for service to the sheriff in the county in which the respondent is present or is currently located. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 9.
Minnesota Court’s Duties as the Judiciary
The court’s duties include the following: (1) providing simplified forms and clerical assistance to help with the writing and filing of a petition; (2) advising the petitioner of the right to file a motion and affidavit and to sue in forma pauperis; (3) assisting with the writing and filing of the motion and affidavit; (4) advising the petitioner of the right to serve the respondent by published notice, if the respondent is avoiding personal service by concealment or otherwise, and assisting with the writing and filing of the motion and affidavit; (5) advising the petitioner of the right to seek restitution under the petition for relief; (6) advising the petitioner of the right to request a hearing and that the respondent may request a hearing if the petitioner does not request a hearing; and (7) advising the petitioner of the right to request supervised parenting time. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 4.
Minnesota’s Requirement of Notice to Respondent as to the Effect an Order for Protection may Have on Parenting-Time Decisions by the Court
A petition and order must include a notice to the respondent that, if an Order for Protection (OFP) is issued to protect the petitioner or a child of the parties, a judge must, on request of the petitioner, consider the OFP when making parenting-time decisions. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 8.
Minnesota’s Legal Right to a Hearing
Upon receipt of the petition, a judge shall order a hearing held not later than fourteen (14) days from the date of the order for the hearing – unless the order is ex parte. Service of the notice of hearing must be made not less than five (5) days before the hearing. Personal service of an ex parteorder may be made upon the respondent at any time up to twelve (12) hours before the hearing, but the respondent may request a five (5) day continuance. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 5.
Criminal Proceedings and the Admissibility of Testimony Under Minnesota Law
Any testimony offered by a respondent in a hearing under Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act is inadmissible (i.e., NOT admissible) in a criminal proceeding. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 15.
(It is highly recommended that any person facing criminal charges consult with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney prior to making and statements or going forward with any offered proof.)
Minnesota Law’s Required Order for Protection Notice Provision
Each Order for Protection (OFP) granted under the Minnesota Domestic Abuse Act must contain a conspicuous notice to the person to be restrained and specifically include the following required notices: (1) violation of an OFP is either a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or felony; (2) the respondent is forbidden to enter or stay at the petitioner’s residence, even if invited to do so by the petitioner or any other person, and that in no event is the OFP voided; (3) a peace officer must arrest without warrant and take into custody a person whom the peace officer has probable cause to believe has violated an OFP restraining the person or excluding the person from a residence; (4) pursuant to the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994, the order is enforceable in all fifty (50) states of these United States, the District of Columbia, tribal or “Indian” lands, and all United States territories; (5) violation of the order may subject the respondent to federal charges and punishment; and (6) if a final order is entered against the respondent after the hearing, the respondent may be prohibited from possessing, transporting, or accepting a firearm under federal law. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 18.
Retaliation by an Employer is Prohibited Under Minnesota Law
An employer may not retaliate against an employee who takes time off from work to obtain or attempt to obtain an Order for Protection (OFP). Except in cases of imminent danger or unless impracticable, the employee must give an employer 48 hours advance notice of taking leave. The employer may request that the employee provide verification that supports the reason for the absence. All information relating to the employee’s leave must be kept confidential by the employer. An employer who violates these provisions is guilty of a misdemeanor and must pay back wages and offer job reinstatement to any employee wrongfully discharged. In addition, an employee may bring a civil action against the employer. Minn. Stat. § 518B.01, subd. 23.