Restraining Order Disorderly Conduct

Conduct Unbecoming (Or, Resulting In A Restraining Order) Part I

May 06, 2024

Disorderly conduct” for purposes of obtaining a disorderly conduct restraining order (“DCRO”) means “intrusive or unwanted acts, words, or gestures that are intended to adversely affect the safety, security, or privacy of another person.” The definition is fairly straightforward, although there are some common misunderstandings about the term of which you should be aware. But practically speaking, what does that conduct look like? Is yelling at someone sufficient? What about swearing at or insulting someone? Can simply getting in a person’s face in an aggressive manner be grounds for a restraining order? Looking at some specific examples from cases before the North Dakota Supreme Court might be helpful in shedding some light on this issue.

First, some cases where the conduct was not sufficient to obtain a DCRO:

  1. Cusey v. Nagel, 2005 ND 84, 695 N.W.2d 697. Yelling and screaming at a person, along with showing up to their place of employment and leaving messages for the person, is not sufficient for a DCRO, when the specific content of the words and messages wasn’t established.
  1. Rekow v. Durheim, 2022 ND 177, 980 N.W.2d 917. Arguing with a person on that person’s property, staying to argue for a while after being asked to leave numerous times, swearing at the person, yelling at the person, and threatening a lawsuit, is not sufficient for a DCRO.
  1. Baker v. Mayer, 2004 ND 105, 680 N.W.2d 261. Driving by someone’s house three times (when the person has a reasonable explanation for it), eating at their place of work, asking other employees about the person’s work schedule, and following the person unintentionally is not sufficient to obtain a DCRO.
  1. Holm v. Holm, 2023 ND 228. After a married couple separated and agreed not to go to each other’s homes, a spouse going to the home of the other spouse against the wishes of that person, does not establish grounds for a DCRO, without demonstrating an intent to adversely affect the person’s safety, security or privacy.
  1. Keller v. Keller, 2017 ND 119, 894 N.W.2d 883. Holding a firearm on the person’s own private property while talking to another person, without pointing the weapon at the other person or making any threatening statements, is constitutionally protected activity and does not establish grounds for a DCRO.
  1. Anderson v. Lamm, 2023 ND 249. Driving through the other parent’s town, while in the midst of a contentious custody case, and either driving by the parent’s home, or close enough to see the home, but with a good excuse to be in the town (using the post office), does not establish grounds for a DCRO.

Now, cases where the conduct was sufficient to obtain a DCRO:

  1. Gonzalez v. Witzke, 2012 ND 60, 813 N.W.2d 592. Calling someone a “troll” and a “perjurer,” recording the person on video in the person’s own yard, and engaging in a pattern of behavior for five years which resulted in a prior DCRO is sufficient to obtain a new DCRO.
  1. Skadberg v. Skadberg, 2002 ND 97, 644 N.W.2d 873. Calling someone at all hours of the day and night (even at 2:00 a.m.) with obscene language and name calling, and yelling and screaming in an angry way during those calls, along with hang-up calls, is sufficient to obtain a DCRO.
  1. Wetzel v. Schlenvogt, 2005 ND 190, 705 N.W.2d 836. Punching someone in the face is sufficient to obtain a DCRO.
  1. Albertson v. Albertson, 2023 ND 225. Making multiple threatening phone calls over a period of two days, some at 3:00 a.m., with an angry and elevated tone, including threats to kill a friend of the person and strong inferences of violence toward the person as well, threats to come over to the other person’s home and kick the door in, is sufficient to grant a DCRO.


If you have questions regarding this topic, then seek the advice of a family law attorney. Contact the SW&L family law team at 701-297-2890 or email us at:

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