In Colorado, courts refer to restraining orders as protection orders. There are generally two major types of protection orders. The first type of protection order is issued in criminal courts and the second type is issued in civil court.
Protection Orders in Criminal Cases
In criminal cases, most protection orders issued are mandatory, and governed by statute. Those are imposed to restrain the accused from contacting other people involved in the case, whether that is an alleged victim in the case or an important witness. Most of these mandatory criminal protection orders are attached to charges involving violence against another, such as assault. Judge generally have very little discretion with regard to these, and there are victim’s rights laws governing how and when these mandatory protection orders are modified. If an accused is charged with assault, they should generally expect an automatic protection order preventing contact with the victim, including presence at the victim’s home, place of work, etc. If child abuse is charged, a protection order preventing contact with the child is likely, including orders against going to the child’s school, place of residence, etc. These protection orders usually prevent the accused from going to the home of the protected party, even if that home is also the home of the accused, such as in domestic violence cases. Mandatory criminal protection orders typically remain in place throughout the case, and only end after any associated sentence ends. If an accused goes to trial and is found not guilty on all charges, the case will be dismissed and the mandatory protection order will end. If an accused loses at trial and is sentenced to 3 years of probation or jail, the protection order would remain in effect at least until after the probation and/or jail sentences are completed.
Civil Case Protection Orders
Unlike criminal protection orders, civil protection orders can be made permanent. The process for obtaining a civil protection order is very different than the mandatory and somewhat automatic orders issued in criminal cases. For a civil protection order, the person requesting the order must file a request with the court, usually in the county in which they live. The court will then review the request, usually without the restrained party being present at this point, and will either dismiss it or grant a temporary protection order. If a temporary protection order is granted, the protected party must be served a copy and will be notified of a hearing date that is likely to be scheduled within 14 days of the temporary order being issued. At that follow up hearing, the court will expect both parties to be present. This is the restrained party’s opportunity to persuade the court that the protection order should not be made permanent. It is the responsibility of the party requesting the order to show the court that the temporary order was served. Colorado statutes state that the temporary protection order, once properly served, can be made permanent at this hearing, and no further notice to the restrained party is required. So if the restrained party does not show up to this hearing after being properly served, the court will likely just make the order permanent. Once this happens it usually takes years for the restrained party to even request a change to the order. If the requesting party does not appear for this hearing, the case is usually dismissed.
Know What Is In The Order
People can certainly make mistakes with regard to whether a protection order has been changed or terminated, including the police and courts themselves. For this reason, one should never simply assume a protection order has been lifted, changed or terminated. The better practice is always for a restrained person to obtain an updated order from the court or other written verification that a protection order has been changed or terminated before making any contact with the protected party, or going to a location that was previously restricted by the protection order.
Police can sometimes assist a restrained party with going to their home to collect personal belongings, etc. However, ongoing modifications to a protection order should be accomplished by requests through the court that issued the order. Protection orders can be modified, but those modifications are more likely if both sides are requesting them. One common example of a modification to a protection order is allowing the parties to communicate by text or email, especially where the parties are co-parenting children.
Restrained parties should be very careful not to violate protection orders. Protection orders are typically only enforceable in one direction. Accepting a call from the protected party can certainly mean jail time for the restrained party and no consequence at all for the protected party. Even communicating through a third party can violate a protection order. In addition, violations can be relatively easy to prove, even if they occur at the invitation of the protected party. At Ready-Law, our clients who are subject to restraining orders are fully advised regarding the terms of applicable protection orders, as well as the consequences of violations.
DV Cases and Family Law
Protection orders are very common in domestic violence cases. It is also not unusual for parties to a divorce to allege domestic violence and pursue both civil and criminal protection orders against the other side. This is especially true where child custody is at issue. Attorney Vernon Ready has successfully defended many domestic violence cases, and has handled divorce and child custody cases for years as well. Where these cases all intersect, protection orders are very common. If you are seeking help with a case involving a protection order, call our office. We can discuss the specific facts of your case, and see how our extensive experience with protection orders, criminal defense, and domestic law can serve you.