The state often only prosecutes people when their intimidating or abusive behavior goes too far. You don’t need to wait for someone to physically victimize you to take legal action. You can ask the courts to help protect you from misconduct by other parties in certain situations.
For example, you can ask for a Harassment Restraining Order (HRO) through the Minnesota civil courts. If a judge agrees that another party’s behavior constitutes harassment, they can order that party to cease the harassment and to avoid all future contact with you. It is also possible for parents or guardians to file a harassment restraining order on behalf of a child.
When might a Minnesota judge grant you an HRO?
After someone pickets your residence
Technically, other people have the right to peacefully protest and to assemble with others who share their beliefs. However, if someone who feels angry at you paints up a sign and stands in front of your home screaming to your neighbors and passers-by that you did them wrong, their actions may meet the state definition of harassment.
After acts of aggression or intimidation
Someone only ever needs to stalk you or commit an act of physical or sexual harassment against you once for the scenario to constitute harassment. Distributing private images of you or repeatedly making unwanted advances or comments to you may all constitute harassment.
Any behavior that causes substantial emotional distress or makes someone fear for their own safety may constitute harassment and could lead to an HRO. Even someone repeatedly attending public events, like a church service, that they know you attend might constitute harassment.
If the courts agree that there is a pattern of harassment, they may grant a temporary order initially and then declare a hearing for a more permanent order. At that hearing, you will have an opportunity to present evidence, and so will the party responding to your claim. If the courts grant the HRO, you will then be able to document any violations of the restraining order and seek state enforcement.
Learning more about how the law helps you protect yourself may inspire you to make use of the civil courts in your harassment-related situation.