Minneapolis Protective Order Attorney
Serving Individuals & Families in the Twin Cities, St. Paul & the Counties of Hennepin, Anoka, Ramsey, Washington, Dakota, Scott, and Carver
More than 10 million men and women in the U.S. are subjected to domestic violence every year. This includes more than one in three women (35.6%) and more than one in four men (28.5%) who experience rape, physical violence, and/ or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime. Equally pervasive is non-physical psychological abuse, including verbal and emotional abuse, coercive control, and gaslighting.
A legal difference exists between domestic abuse and other forms of abuse in our society. Domestic abuse has a specific definition as well as a procedure that allows the abused to obtain an Order of Protection through the courts. These Orders contain directions and restrictions that the alleged abuser must follow or risk arrest and criminal charges.
Protective Orders are necessary in cases where actual or threatened violence has occurred. On the other hand, it is not uncommon for individuals to be accused of domestic abuse based on exaggerations, misrepresentations, and false claims. Accusations often occur in cases where an intimate relationship has broken down into emotional conflicts, such as in cases of divorce or child custody disputes.
At Sobol Family Law, Attorney Brian Sobol is extremely sensitive to these issues. Brian has successfully defended victims of abuse and those falsely accused of abuse for over 40 years. He served for a decade on the Board of Directors of Cornerstone, a Twin Cities shelter, support, and advocacy group for domestic violence victims of abuse. He also spent a decade on the National AAML (American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers) Domestic Abuse taskforce.
What Is Domestic Violence in Minnesota?
Domestic violence involves attempts to physically or psychologically dominate or harm through direct assault or by causing fear of imminent harm, bodily injury, or assault.
Those who may be involved in domestic violence include:
- Spouses and former spouses
- Parents and children
- Persons related by blood
- Persons residing together or who have resided together in the past
- Persons who have a child in common regardless of marital status
- A pregnant woman and the man alleged to be the father regardless of marital status
- Persons involved in a romantic or sexual relationship
Domestic violence occurs in all races, ethnicities, religious groups, and socioeconomic classes and is perpetrated by, and on, both women and men. It can occur in same-sex and opposite-sex relationships.
Protective Orders as Relief in Minnesota Domestic Violence Cases
Minnesota has a process aimed at quickly providing relief to victims of domestic abuse. These victims may obtain, without notice to the other party, an ex parte Order for Protection. When signed by a judge, the Order will direct the county sheriff to immediately remove the alleged abuser from the home – usually with no warning and with only a few minutes to gather some personal belongings.
The Order may also award temporary custody of any shared children to the alleged victim, pending a hearing.
In some cases, a two-year Order for Protection may be granted unless a hearing is requested by the alleged abuser. If children are involved or a party has been excluded from a residence, an initial hearing within five days may be required.
At the hearing, the alleged abuser may:
- Admit the allegations
- Agree to the Order without admitting or denying the allegations
- Agree to the Order while denying the allegations
- Deny the allegations outright and request a full evidentiary hearing
Domestic Violence Evidentiary Hearings
In an evidentiary hearing, both the alleged victim and abuser, with witnesses, may testify. This hearing must take place within 14 days unless the alleged abuser agrees to a time extension.
In evidentiary hearings, the burden of proving the abuse rests on the alleged victim. She/he must establish either physical harm or that the alleged abuser made threats causing fear of imminent harm, bodily injury, or assault.
In certain instances, this burden may be easy to establish – especially if physical evidence of an assault exists. More difficult to establish are cases where the alleged abuser threatened imminent harm. Such cases are determined by which party’s testimony is more credible.
If the Court finds that domestic abuse has occurred, an Order for Protection is issued, valid for up to a year and occasionally longer. These Orders may provide economic relief as well as custody to victims along with other conditions applicable to the abuser.
Individuals who violate protective orders may be immediately arrested and jailed. Certain violations can result in a felony conviction, imprisonment of up to five years, a fine of up to $10,000, and loss of gun rights while the order is in force.
Protective orders may be extended beyond their terms, by establishing any of the following:
- A violation of the order during its term;
- A reasonable fear of harm;
- That the abuser engaged in stalking;
- That the abuser has been incarcerated and is about to be or has been released from jail.
Harassment orders may be sought in circumstances where the parties’ relationship or the alleged abuse does not fit the legal parameters of domestic violence. The threshold for obtaining a harassment order includes stalking, repeated intrusive threats, or contacts invading one’s privacy. The key is that the conduct must be repeated; a single incident of harassment typically will not justify a harassment order.
The procedure for obtaining a harassment order is similar to that for a protective order. It includes the issuance of an ex parte order and subsequent hearing before a final order may be issued.
“Brian was tenacious in helping me protect my children and was able to uncover our finances to allow us to ultimately reach a fair division of our property and a fair award of support for me and my children.”- Megan C.
“His work is nothing but extraordinary. What he did for my friend was impossible to even think could be done. Brian did what he would do for his own family.”- Yelena B.
“His knowledge in a variety of legal aspects is unparalleled. We feel fortunate to have his representation.”- Jeff
“He made the process of the ordeal as good as it could have been, including the outcome. I would recommend Brian to anyone, who wants an exceptional professional and advocate to represent them in a legal matter.”- Former Client
“After Brian negotiated my divorce settlement, my ex-husband, surprisingly, delivered the highest compliment, stating "Brian was brilliant."”- Barbara
“During the past three years Brian helped me through a bitterly contested family law matter.”- David
“Brian Sobol is methodical in his approach. It takes a long time to move through the family court process but I can sit back now and relax. A highly skilled professional will argue the law and fight for me to see my kids.”- Julie M.
“I know I won't have need of for Mr. Sobol again. If I did though...Brian Sobol would be the person I would have defend me!”- Tammy G.
Whether you are a victim or have been accused of abuse, it is important to have experienced counsel at your side. Brian is extremely skilled at both protecting victims of abuse as well as those accused of abuse.
Brian similarly takes a very dim view of individuals misusing the domestic abuse process and has successfully achieved dismissals of protective orders obtained under false pretenses.
If you have been a victim of domestic abuse, Brian will work vigorously to ensure you and your children are safe and protected. If you have been accused, he will fight to make sure your rights are protected.
Brian brings empathy and understanding to cases of domestic abuse and is a zealous advocate for his clients.