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About the Harassment Restraining Order

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Before you apply to get a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO), there are some things you should know. The information below comes from "Orders for Protection and Harassment Restraining Orders," a booklet from the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition State Support Center.

What does an HRO do?

A Harassment Restraining Order is a court order. It provides protection from harassment or stops another person from bothering you. It is not a criminal proceeding. It takes place in civil court.

Who can get a Harassment Restraining Order?

Anyone can get a harassment restraining order. You do not need to have a relationship with the harasser like you do for an Order for Protection (OFP). A parent, guardian or stepparent can get a harassment restraining order for a child.

For example, if your ex-boyfriend's new girlfriend threatens to "get you," you can apply for a Harassment Restraining Order against her. Or, if you have an OFP against your ex-boyfriend and he keeps calling and threatening your parents, they could ask for a Harassment Restraining Order against him.

If someone is harassing you, sometimes it helps if you first tell them to stop or write them a letter telling them to stop. Keep a copy of any letter you send and a written record of any times you verbally told the harasser to stop.

What counts as harassment?

Harassment is when someone does or says things that threaten you. Harassment also includes:

  • repeatedly telephoning a person
  • repeatedly following a person
  • slashing car tires
  • blackmail
  • sending letters or e-mail
  • leaving notes

What can the Harassment Restraining Order do to protect me?

The court can order the harasser to leave you alone and have no further contact with you. This includes stopping the telephone calls, letters, and e-mails. For example, the order can limit the number of times in a day or week or month you can be contacted. The order can state a specific number of feet the harasser must stay away from you. Or, the order may just say "stop calling."

Ask for everything you want the court to order in your petition for a Harassment Restraining Order or you may not get what you want.

What is the difference between having a Harassment Restraining Order and an OFP?

An OFP provides better protection. Police and the courts take an OFP more seriously. If you qualify for both, it is usually best to apply for an OFP.

Some behaviors do not meet the legal definition of domestic abuse, but do meet the definition of harassment. For example, repeated telephone calls from your ex-boyfriend threatening to take custody of the children away from you may be harassment, but not always domestic abuse. It may depend on if you were afraid of being harmed, or just really annoyed that the calls don't stop.

As another example, if your ex's new girlfriend is repeatedly making threatening calls by swearing at you and/or calling you bad names, that is harassment because you and the girlfriend are not in a kind of relationship that qualifies for an OFP.

If you qualify for an OFP and would like to complete an OFP instead, click here.

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