SPEED AND BURDEN OF PROOF FOR ORDERS FOR PROTECTION
The Order for Protection is an expedited process which means the matter proceeds rapidly to a hearing and, if contested, to a court trial. Understanding and preparing for the process can be a critical to the outcome. Any person involved in an Order for Protection should retain a lawyer.
EXPEDITED PROCEEDINGS.Since this type of physical conflict is the subject of a great many police calls and dangerous situations, the domestic abuse act treats OFP proceedings in an expedited fashion. That means hearings on allegations of abuse occur very quickly. If no Ex Parte Order has issued, the court must schedule a hearing to occur not later than 14 days from the date of the order for hearing. If Ex Parte (emergency) relief is granted, the hearing must occur within 7 days and Respondent may be served up to 12 hours prior to that hearing date. Continuances can be granted for up to five days unless good cause for a lengthier continuance is shown.
Given the short timeline, retaining counsel immediately is imperative.
LOW BURDEN OF PROOFIn addition to having hearings scheduled with a limited ability to prepare, the court also applies a liberal construction to the proceedings in favor of the person alleging injury. Swenson v. Swenson, 490 N.W.2d 668, 670 (Minn. Ct. App. 1992). Decisions on contested allegations are also made based on the lowest threshold of proof in law, a preponderance of evidence. This means a court may issue an OFP if it finds one party more believable than another. Minn. R. Gen. P. 301.01 (b)3.
In some counties like Ramsey County, cases are blocked to the same Judge if there is a companion family law case such as a dissolution of marriage, custody, paternity or CHIPS case.
To present a case properly, it is important to contact and, in some cases subpoena, important witnesses to attend court and testify.