What are Protection Orders in Colorado?

A civil protection order, otherwise known as a civil restraining order is a court mandate issued to protect the person seeking the order from abuse, harassment, stalking, threats, or intimidation by the person the order is sought against.

It is often sought by victims of domestic abuse, though these victims are not the only individuals to which civil protection orders can be granted. Civil restraining orders can also be granted to victims of sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, or anyone under fear of personal injury or arm. A protection order in Colorado can prohibit contact with family members, dictate when and where the subject can be present in certain places, and even limit the subject’s contact with pets belonging to the seeker of the order.

Civil Protection Orders in Colorado

There are three types of protection orders in Colorado that are typically issued:

  • Temporary Restraining Order
  • Permanent Protection Order
  • Emergency Protection Order

Temporary Protection Order

In the case of a temporary protection order, the person seeking the protection order will file a motion with a judge to have the order issued. This motion can be filed in the county in which the alleged abuse occurred, where the alleged victim works or lives, or where the alleged abuser works or lives.

For example, if the alleged abuse occurred outside the city of Denver but both the alleged victim and the alleged abuser live or work in Denver, the motion for a civil protection order can still be filed in Denver.

The motion for a civil protection order will include contact information for the person seeking the order and the person the order is sought against, the names of any children who are also protected by the order, as well as the extent to which the person seeking the civil protection order would like to limit contact. A short description of why the protection order is being sought is also listed.

It is not necessary for the person the order is sought against to be present for a temporary protection order to be granted in Colorado; therefore, the subject of the order does not have a chance to respond to the allegations when the civil protection order is issued.

C.R.S. 13-14-104.5 (7)(a)

A Temporary Protection Order is relatively easy for someone to get and involves the Petitioner appearing before a court, almost always without the Respondent, and arguing that there is “imminent danger” (”A temporary civil protection order may be issued if the issuing judge or magistrate finds that an imminent danger exists to the person or persons seeking protection under the civil protection order.” C.R.S. 13-14-104.5 (7)(a) ).

At the time a temporary civil restraining order is issued, the judge will set a date for a hearing, at which the court will determine if a permanent civil protection order is necessary. For this hearing, both the subject of the order and the person seeking the order against that person are required to be present. If either person is not present, the hearing will typically be ruled in favor of the person who is present, i.e., if the subject of the projection order is present at the hearing but the person seeking the protection order is not, the order will not be granted, and vice versa. 

C.R.S. 13-14-106(1)(a)

The Petitioner must serve the Verified Complaint on the Respondent so that notice is properly given of the subsequent Permanent Protection Orders hearing. At the PPO hearing, there are two “prongs” that the Petitioner must prove by a preponderance of the evidence. (Note: “A finding of imminent danger to the protected person is not a necessary prerequisite to the issuance of a permanent civil protection order.” C.R.S. 13-14-106(1)(a) ).

Proof Needed to Obtain PPO

The two “prongs” that must be proven to obtain the PPO are: 

  • “That the respondent has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order.” 
  • “That unless restrained will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the protected person.” 

(Both prongs quoted from C.R.S. 13-14-10(1)(a). If both prongs are proven by a preponderance of the evidence a PPO is issued.

Permanent Civil Protection Order in Colorado

A permanent civil protection order in Colorado is used to prohibit the subject of the order from taking certain actions, specified in the order, against the person seeking the order. As the name would imply, when issued by the court this order is permanent.

A permanent civil protection order can be used to restrict contact with a victim or the victim’s family or limit the contact between two people to only phone or email contact. A civil protection order can also restrict movements of the subject.

Violating a civil protection order in Colorado can result in significant jail time and fines.

Emergency Protection Order in Colorado

An emergency protection order is similar to a temporary protection order, but an emergency protection order is granted by law enforcement rather than by a judge, and thus can be granted at times when courts are not open. 

What Can A Civil Restraining Order in Colorado Do?

Each individual protection order in Colorado will prohibit different actions, based on the situation. 

For example, in a domestic violence situation, the civil protection order may prohibit the subject of the order from contacting members of their own family, or members of their victim’s family. It may limit in-person contact, phone contact, contact over social media, or any combination thereof. The protection order can also mandate the subject of the order to cease all contact with their alleged victim. 

A civil protection order can even dictate when the subject of the order is allowed to be present in public places. If the alleged victim works, for instance, at a shopping mall, the subject of the order can be prohibited from entering the shopping mall at times the alleged victim is known to be at work. A protection order in Colorado can also mandate that the subject of the order surrender any firearms or other weapons to law enforcement.

Civil Restraining Order or Criminal Restraining Order?

Though civil restraining orders and criminal restraining orders are similar, in Colorado, the process of obtaining and issuing them is different.

Colorado Civil Restraining Orders

Civil restraining orders are sought by the victim of abuse of their own accord and are granted by a judge. Civil protection orders are sought for anything from domestic violence to stalking, even if the subject of the order has never spoken to its seeker. It is not mandatory that civil protection orders be granted, and their issue is at the discretion of the judge with whom the motion has been filed.

Criminal Restraining Orders in Colorado

C.R.S. .18-1-1001

Criminal restraining orders in Colorado are bestowed in cases of domestic violence. Protection orders are mandatory in criminal cases, as a function of Colorado statute, C.R.S. .18-1-1001. In the case of criminal restraining orders, therefore, the victim does not seek the order themselves.

Think of a mandatory criminal protection order as having eight “boxes” that may be “checked” by the court. The first “box” states that the defendant “shall not harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, or tamper without any witness to or victim of the acts you are charged with committing.” This box is the only box that must be checked throughout the case until the matter is completely closed. 

The rest of the “boxes” dealing with matters like whether or not the defendant must vacate the home, relinquish firearms, etc. can be imposed and modified by the Court. Most defendants are mainly concerned with whether the MPO allows any kind of contact and that can be negotiated by competent counsel and modified by the Court.

What Are the Penalties for Violating a Colorado Protection Order?

The penalties for violating a protective order in Colorado, either criminal or civil, are the same; it is a misdemeanor offense and can result in up to $5000 in fines, and 18 months in jail.

Colorado maintains a statewide database listing all issued protective orders and their conditions. If the subject of a civil protection order is reported to have been in violation of a protection order, they can be arrested, regardless of if the person who sought the civil restraining order reported the violation.

Therefore, if you are the subject of a protective order, and the person who sought the civil protection order against you changes their mind and attempts to contact you, you will still be in violation of the order and will be subject to the penalties. Should you come into contact with the police, they will be able to access the civil protection order issued against you, which could potentially result in an arrest.

Can a Protection Order be Removed?

If a temporary civil restraining order is placed on you, it is important to contact an attorney and to be present at the court hearing. A copy of the temporary restraining order, including the date of this hearing, will be officially served to you if you are the subject of a temporary protection order. 

A Permanent Protection Order is very difficult to modify and will forever be a part of your record. It is important to speak with an attorney about how best to defend yourself.

Contact Criminal Defense Attorney, Jeff Weeden

For more information on civil restraining orders in Colorado, or to discuss your case, call Colorado Domestic Abuse Criminal Defense Attorney, Jeff Weeden at 720-307-4330. Phones are answered 24/7, and collect calls from inmates are accepted. Or, fill out a quick form to schedule a free consultation!

WeedenLaw is a trusted advocate during his nearly 15 years representing those accused of crimes, attorney Weeden has represented clients throughout Colorado including Adams, Arapahoe, Aurora, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Douglas, Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Morgan, Weld counties and beyond.

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