According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 16,700 Colorado residents reported at least one domestic violence incident to the police in 2014. The same year around 325,000 citizens were victims of stalking, and more than 1,000 were kidnapped by current or ex-partners. 25 Colorado citizens were even killed by current or former partners.
Protection orders – sometimes known commonly as restraining orders – can be essential legal tools to keep you safe if you have been the victim of sexual assault, domestic violence, or stalking. Whether you wish to file a motion for a temporary protection order, win a hearing to extend an existing order and make it permanent, or hold an abuser or stalker accountable for violating a standing order’s conditions, a competent Colorado family lawyer can assist you.
Please note that the following sections are written from a family law perspective for the intended benefit of victims of domestic violence, stalking, or harassment seeking to take a civil protection order out on an abuser. If you have been arrested for domestic violence or accused of abuse and find yourself the subject of a protection order, you may instead wish to read our article on criminal defense for those targeted by protection orders. Though this article is victim-oriented, much of the information contained here will be helpful to alleged abusers and alleged victims alike.
Protection Orders Lawyer in Colorado Springs, CO
If you have been the victim of domestic violence or the target of stalking or harassment, Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can assist by filing and enforcing protective orders against your abuser. We have years of experience representing clients from Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas of El Paso County, Arapahoe County, and Denver County in a wide variety of family law matters including in divorces and custody disputes, as well as in alimony and child support cases.
We know that the court process can be daunting, especially if you are already frightened and overwhelmed by abuse at home or by the unwanted attention of a stalker. Fortunately, Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can walk you through the entire restraining order process by drawing upon our considerable skill and knowledge of family law. We will tackle such tasks as:
- Gathering evidence to support a protective order
- Preparing the Complaint for Civil Protection Order, which is a verified document that you attest to under oath
- Representing you at a hearing for a temporary order of protection
- Handling notice requirements to serve the ex parte order to the alleged offender
- Preparing for the hearing on a permanent civil protection order, noting different standards of proof that apply
- Fighting to protect you and your family during the injunction hearing
Our divorce attorneys also defend clients against protection orders that are baseless or unwarranted. Unfortunately, protection orders can be improperly used to gain a strategic advantage in divorce/custody cases. The proceedings affect your individual and parental rights, and may even have consequences for your job, living arrangements, and finances. As such, it is critical to defend the allegations when you have the opportunity at a permanent injunction hearing. Recall that the Complaint for Civil Protection Order is a sworn statement, so you might have evidence contradicting the accuser’s allegations.
Good representation can make all the difference at a hearing and might help sway the court to grant or extend an order. Call us at (719) 328-1616 today for a confidential consultation and let us help make use of every available legal resource to protect you. The first thirty minutes are free.
Overview of Civil Protection Order Law in Colorado
- What is a Colorado Civil Protection Order?
- Types of Protection Orders in Colorado
- How to File For Different Types of Protection Orders
- Protection Order Restrictions
- Enforcing a Protection Order
- How a Protection Order Can Affect Your Life
- Additional Resources
What is a Colorado Civil Protection Order?
Civil protection orders (sometimes known as restraining orders) are designed to protect a person, often a current or former partner or a target of stalking or harassment, from actual or threatened abuse. Protection orders may forbid your abuser from making direct or indirect contact with you and restrict an abuser’s movements. For example, a protection order may require that an abuser stay away from your home or workplace or prevent your abuser from calling or e-mailing you.
Civil and criminal protection orders are different. Unlike criminal orders, which are only put in place by courts when certain kinds of domestic violence crimes have been committed, civil protection orders can be filed by victims whenever they choose – even when no arrest has been made. Civil protection orders are optional on the part of the victim, whereas criminal protection orders are mandatory in cases of partner violence where an arrest has been made.
Types of Protection Orders in Colorado
There are three types of protection (or restraining) orders – emergency, temporary, and permanent.
Temporary protection orders (TROs) can be filed and granted in the short term without a court hearing – the victim first files a motion for a protection order and a judge then determines if there are reasonable grounds for issuing it. If so, the order will go into temporary effect until the alleged abuser is served with a copy and a court hearing can be scheduled. After a hearing at which both parties are present, the judge can decide to make the protection order into a permanent protection order (PRO).
Emergency protection orders (EPOs) are another kind of short-term protection order available when courts are not in session. An emergency protection order can be secured by filing a complaint of abuse, stalking, or harassment with local law enforcement. These orders can later be made permanent by a court hearing similar to the process for temporary orders.
How to File Different Types of Colorado Protection Orders
The exact process for obtaining a domestic violence injunction varies based upon the circumstances. If there is a pending divorce case, you can seek protection through the divorce court; otherwise, you initiate a new, standalone case by filing the proper documents. Additional steps include:
- Obtaining a Temporary Order: To obtain a civil protection order, you must first apply for a temporary protection order with the court. You will need to supply basic information, including the reasons for seeking the order and details regarding incidents of domestic violence. Court rules allow you to appear before a judge the same day for an ex parte hearing, i.e., a proceeding that takes place without the alleged offender being in court. If the court finds that you are at imminent risk and an injunction is necessary to prevent violence, it will grant a temporary order that remains in place until a hearing can be held on whether a permanent injunction is appropriate – not longer than 14 days.
- Permanent Protective Orders: If the temporary civil protection order is granted, the court will then set you for a permanent protection order hearing to determine if the order will be made permanent. The accused individual will have notice of this hearing and can attend to defend the allegations, such as by providing additional testimony and evidence. If the petitioner can prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the other committed acts of violence, the court may issue a permanent order of protection.
The standards for a temporary protection order versus a permanent protection order are different, so it’s helpful to have knowledgeable legal counsel to represent you through the process.
Different Kinds of Restrictions
Protection orders can contain different provisions but usually include limits on contact and restrictions about where the alleged abuser can and cannot go. The particular restrictions imposed by a given protection order with depend on the specific facts of the situation.
Typical restrictions can include prohibiting electronic and in-person contact with a victim or making the alleged abuser move out of a shared home. Bans on contact can also extend to other family members, children, and even pets. The alleged abuser may also be restricted from coming within a certain distance of the victim or visiting the victim’s home or place of business.
Content of an Order of Protection: An injunction can cover a wide range of contact and communication that the respondent is prohibited from doing. For example, a Colorado protection order may:
- Prohibit the respondent from contacting the petitioner
- Require that the respondent not come within a certain distance of the victim’s workplace or school
- Exclude the person from the family home or other residence
- Direct that the restrained party continue to pay household bills and expenses.
Protective Orders and Children: A domestic violence injunction can also address the safety and well-being of children that the petitioner and respondent share. The language of the protection order can prohibit the respondent from contacting the petitioner or children they share, award sole custody of children, or terminate visiting time – while still requiring that person to pay child support.
Duration: A temporary protective order cannot extend beyond 14 days, because the nature of the underlying ex parte proceeding impinges on the respondent’s due process rights. However, once a permanent order is issued, it remains effective without a termination date. The injunction can only be changed or terminated if a party moves to modify, and the court enters a new order.
Enforcing a Protection Order
Even though civil protection orders don’t need to stem from an underlying arrest, violating a civil protection order is still a criminal offense. Violation of a civil protection order is a misdemeanor carrying a punishment of up to 18 months in jail and a $5,000 fine.
Protection orders are catalogued in an electronic database accessible to law enforcement officers across Colorado, allowing police to easily identify all parties to a restraining order. If you report a violation, then the abuser or stalker named in the order is not only subject to immediate arrest but may also be held civilly liable for contempt of court.
How a Protection Order Can Affect Your Life
As mentioned, all assaults are considered criminal in nature, so a domestic violence protective order may impact criminal charges against the accused. However, protective orders also affect other family law cases, particularly when injunctive relief is part of divorce proceedings. If you apply for the protection order through your divorce or child custody case as the protection order could have an impact on the court’s determinations regarding custody.
This is because the child’s best interests standard applies when the court makes decisions on child custody and visitation, now termed allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. Key factors in the child’s best interests statute include whether the child was the victim of domestic violence or witnessed abuse against a parent.
Our lawyers at Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC can advise you on the details, since a protective order can be structured to award temporary custody, terminate parental responsibilities, require supervised visitation, and other provisions. To discuss your protection order issue, schedule a free, one-hour consultation with one of our divorce attorneys today.
Frequently Asked Questions about Civil Protection (Restraining) Orders – Here is a list of helpful information direct from the Colorado court system. Follow the link to answer questions you may have about protection orders. Information includes where to go, who you can get a protection order against, who qualifies for protection, and more.
Facts and Statistics, A Woman’s Place – This site provides information about domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking from a Colorado shelter for female victims of abuse. Even if you are a man, there is data here relevant to you. Also discussed are some common myths about domestic violence that aren’t actually true.
El Paso County, CO Protection Order Attorney
An experienced Colorado family law attorney can assist you whether you are seeking to have an order put in place, trying to extend a temporary or emergency order, or having trouble enforcing a preexisting order and looking to hold an abuser or stalker accountable for violating its terms. At Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC, we know that being the victim of domestic abuse or stalking can be a very frightening ordeal. We want to aggressively utilize every available legal option to keep you safe and give you some peace of mind by using our considerable knowledge of family law to help you navigate the court process smoothly and effectively.
Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC handles a broad range of family law cases ranging from divorces and annulments to child custody, alimony, and child support. Don’t hesitate to consult with us regarding any family law-related issue you may be facing in Colorado Springs or the surrounding areas. If you have been threatened or abused, we can strategize about how to best use the law to protect you and your family. Contact Law Offices of Clifton Black, PC at (719) 328-1616 today to schedule a confidential consultation to explore your options. Please note, the first half hour of your session is free.