Posted at: 10/23/2012 5:49 PM
By: Brittany Lewis
Are Restraining Orders Effective
(ABC 6 News) -- Recent domestic abuse situations like the one in Milwaukee and even in our area, raise the question: do restraining orders work?
"Last year in MN, we had 34 people that were killed due to domestic violence, but there were well over 12,000 orders of protection filed," said Jackie Benoit-Petrich.
Petrich works at the Rochester Women's Shelter. A review she conducted found that in Olmsted County between the months of July and September, there were 128 cases of domestic assault and 20 of those were order of protection violations.
"There are some perpetrators that just don't get it. There is a judge that says you may not contact this victim, you may not go to her home, you may not go to her place of work and within 24 hours, that offender is going to her place of business, driving by her house," she said.
But although an order of protection or restraining order is essentially just a piece of paper detailing what is and what is not allowed, officials say, they can be effective.
"For the most part, restraining orders are very effective, they do accomplish what the person needs, which is a sense of security, most people abide by those orders," said Olmsted County Attorney, Mark Ostrem.
"It is a tool that law enforcement can use to enforce a judge's order. If that order is violated over and over, it will put that perpetrator into a higher crime in which higher fines, possible incarceration, things like this would occur. So, it's something," added Benoit-Petrich.
If someone violates the order of protection, the charges increase with each violations. The first is a misdemeanor, the second, a gross misdemeanor, and the third is a felony- no matter what the violation is.
"It doesn't matter if the third one is just a phone call and the first two might've been physical abuse, the third one still becomes a felony based on the prior two," said Ostrem.
Ostrem says those violations are prosecuted just as seriously as a domestic assault.
If someone does violate a restraining order or order of protection, you are encouraged to call police. If you are in a domestic violence situation, you are encouraged to talk with someone or go to a women's shelter.