Restraining Orders and No Contact Orders in Minnesota Law
There is more than one type of Restraining Order in Minnesota law. Here are the most important:
- Order for Protection (OFP)
- Harassment Restraining Order (HRO)
- No Contact Condition of Pretrial Release
- Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO)
The first two (OFP and HRO) begin in family court as civil motions by a person. The person who asked for it can get it dropped.
The second two (No Contact Condition and DANCO) begin in a criminal court case after a person is claimed to have committed a crime by the government. The government’s lawyer — the prosecutor — asks for it. The judge can drop it but almost never will unless the alleged victim campaigns for it to be dropped.
Civil restraining orders, criminal law consequences
The Minnesota laws creating the Order for Protection (OFP) and Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) remedies are similar in many ways. One key difference is that the OFP law requires a relationship between the parties while the HRO law does not.
If a person named as a Respondent in either an Order for Protection (OFP) or Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) has contact with the Petitioner or otherwise violates its terms, the Respondent can be charged with a crime.
These cases are charged as “Violation of an Order for Protection” or “Violation of a Harassment Restraining Order” as the case may be. The criminal charges are serious in their consequences. A person charged with one of these crimes needs help from an experienced defense lawyer.
Criminal case restraining orders, criminal law consequences
In a pending criminal case where the prosecuting attorney claims a relationship and a victim (like a domestic assault case), they will ask the court for both a No Contact Condition of Pretrial Release; and a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order (DANCO). Though these two types of no contacts orders sound like one thing, they are two separate court orders with important differences.
Pre-trial release conditions — no contact
In any criminal case the judge can set conditions of pretrial release, including bail. In domestic criminal cases, the judge is often asked by the state to include a no-contact condition of pretrial release. If the defendant were proven to have violated a conditions of pretrial release, the court’s remedies include issuing an arrest warrant and revisiting the issue of pretrial release. (Pretrial release concerns mainly the court’s assuring defendant appearance at future court appearances, through trial or sentencing if any.)
Domestic Abuse No Contact Order, or DANCO
The Domestic Abuse No Contact Order, often referred to by its acronym, DANCO, is a more recent development. It is similar to a civil OFP except that it originates in a criminal case. It is similar to an OFP in that, unlike a violation of a condition or pretrial release, a violation of a DANCO can be charged as a new, independent crime — with a new court file number and a potential for a separate conviction record and sentence.
In Minnesota, every defendant has the Constitutional right to pre-trial release without conditions other than bail, pending the trial. Proponents of the DANCO law had this in mind. A person charged with a domestic crime can post the usually higher, unconditional bail amount with the court and so avoids a no-contact condition of pretrial release. But the DANCO imposed remains another kind of no contact order with even more severe consequences for violation. In the end, there will still be a no contact order unless the court decides to lift it.
Do you have a question about a Restraining Order? Give a call to Thomas Gallagher, Minneapolis Defense Attorney, at 612 333-1500.
Is it possible to avoid a Restraining Order or get rid of one once it already exists? Like many things, it’s easier to prevent one than to get rid of one already issued by a court. There are significant differences in how to prevent them, and in how to get rid of them, depending upon what type.
In domestic criminal cases, often the witness did not request and does not want any kind of restraining order or no-contact order.
Prosecutors and courts almost never ask the alleged victim whether he or she wants a no contact order; and if they say they don’t, courts usually issue the no contacts orders initially. Most so-called victim advocates are committed to promoting the prosecution agenda, and recruiting the victim as a prosecution tool, to be discarded after use. There are a rare few victim advocates actually deserving of that title. Many alleged victims retain a lawyer of their own to help their voices be heard.
When their Solution is your Problem
The legal system in Minnesota generally victimizes these witnesses by taking away their power to control their own lives and associate with whomever they like, even though they are not accused of any crime. This leads many to seek legal advice and representation from a witness lawyer.
Gallagher has been retained as a witness attorney (an attorney counseling and representing a witness) many times over the years. Gallagher is happy to answer questions by phone. This article he has written may also be helpful to you: How to Get Rid of a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order in Minnesota.