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What to Know About Witnesses for Orders of Protection in Minnesota

Minnesota’s Domestic Abuse Act was enacted to protect domestic violence victims by offering a restraining order (or order for protection) as a means of ensuring the victim’s wellbeing. The order for protection (OFP) can prohibit the accused from contacting the victim, as well as provisions about how to deal with minor children, if any exist in the relationship.

When an OFP is issued, there may be an evidentiary hearing for the purpose of contesting the allegations. At this hearing, either party is allowed to call witnesses. Here is some information you should know about witnesses for OFPs.

  • Testifying: Witnesses may only testify regarding relevant details or events to the accusations. Character evidence is typically not allowed, and if the testimony is redundant in nature the judge will also likely limit that testimony. In addition, witnesses must have direct knowledge of the allegations for their testimony to be considered reliable.
  • Presence in court: The court will typically prevent witnesses from being in the court room except for their periods of testimony, to prevent them from hearing other people’s testimonies.
  • Children: Technically, there is nothing in Minnesota law that precludes children from acting as witnesses in OFP hearings. However, most judges will be reluctant to allow a child to testify, as it could put the child in a very emotionally traumatic position to have to testify for or against a parent.

For more information about how witnesses will be used in an OFP hearing, contact an experienced Minnesota family lawyer at Appelhof, Pfeifer & Hart, P.A.

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