By Maury D. Beaulier, Esq.
Domestic Abuse is a serious issue. Under Minnesota Statutes, domestic abuse
is an offense that is carried out by an adult who is now or used to be married
to the victim, who is a parent to the victim, who is unmarried to, but who lives
or used to live with the victim, or who is parent to a minor or an unborn child.
Despite the fact that the domestic abuse process is sometimes abused with
fabrications occurring in order to gain advantage in family law proceedings,
facts and statistics clearly indicate that strong laws are necessary.
A woman is beaten every 15 seconds.
(Bureau of Justice
Statistics, Report to the nation on Crime and Justice. The Data. Washington
DC Office of Justice Program, US Dept. of Justice. Oct 1983)
Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between ages
15 and 44 in the united States - more than car accidents, muggings, and
Reports, Federal Bureau of Investigation, 1991)
Battered women are more likely to suffer miscarriages and to give birth
to babies with low birth weights.
(Surgeon General, United States, 1992).
"One in five women victimized by their spouses or ex-spouses report they
had been victimized over and over again by the same person."
of Batterer Treatment, Common Purpose, Inc., Jamaica Plain, MA)
Women of all cultures, races, occupations, income levels, and ages are
battered - by husbands, boyfriends, lovers and partners.
(Surgeon General Antonia Novello, as quoted
in Domestic Violence: Battered Women, publication of the Reference
Department of the Cambridge Public Library, Cambridge, MA)
- According to the United States Department of Justice during each year
women were the victims of more than 4.5 million violent crimes, including
approximately 500,000 rapes or other sexual assaults. In 29 percent of the
violent crimes against women by lone offenders the perpetrators were
intimates--husbands, former husbands, boyfriends or former boyfriends.
A victim can make a report of assault to police in order to have criminal
charges filed. A victim may also file a civil suit seeking damages. This is true
even if the abuser is a spouse. Additionally, a victim may file for Order
for Protection against the abuser.
ORDERS FOR PROTECTION (OFP)
An order for protection is a restraining order prohibiting the person accused
of committing abuse from continuing the abuse. Often the Order for Protection
will also include provisions limiting or prohibiting contact with the victims.
This obviously becomes a difficult issue where minor children are involved.
PROCESS FOR OFP
The Requirements Orders for protection can be obtained at the county
courthouse or at the county domestic abuse office in the county where the victim
lives. Orders for Protection may also be drafted by attorneys or at battered
women’s shelter or women’s centers. There is no fee for an order for protection, and the county is
obligated to provide the public with assistance in completing the paperwork. For
a court order to be granted, a petition must be supported with evidence of the
alleged abuse. As a result, it is important to include specific facts regarding
the abuse in your affidavit. If the petition is defective or if it fails to list
sufficient allegations of abuse, the petition may be dismissed. You may wish to
consult with a lawyer before completing your OFP petition.
A Petition for an Order for Protection may seek other relief in addition to a
restraining order. Other common requests include seeking an order for
restitution, requiring the abuser to attend counseling, and for child support
and/or spousal maintenance.
Once a Petition for an OFP has been filled out with a supporting affidavit,
it is presented to the signing Judge on the same day. The signing Judge reviews
the petition to determine if the allegations of abuse are sufficient to warrant
the entry of an Temporary Order prohibiting contact between the parties until a
hearing can be held. In cases where the parties live together, the alleged
abuser may be served and required to leave the family home with little more than
the clothes on his back.
After a Temporary Order is entered, an initial hearing will be scheduled and
held within seven (7) days. Regardless of whether the accused person attends the
court hearing, the abused person or his or her guardian must be present. At In
most counties, the initial hearing allows the alleged abuser to either:
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