In Colorado, civil protection orders, also called restraining orders, are available to prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm, to prevent domestic abuse, to prevent emotional abuse of the elderly and of at-risk adults, to prevent sexual assault or abuse, and to prevent stalking.
Civil protection orders are not the same as the mandatory protection orders that are issued in some criminal cases. They are civil court orders that are issued to restrain one person from engaging in any contact, or from engaging in certain kinds of contact, with another person.
If you have a protection order filed against you, you may have questions about what you can do to fight it, and about what you can do to mitigate the impact it will have on your life.
How are protection orders obtained?
First, the person seeking the protection order goes to court to seek a temporary protection order. A judge hears their request immediately, without notice to or input from the person they are seeking the protection order against. In order to issue a temporary protection orders, a judge must find that an imminent danger exists to the person seeking the protection order. Judges tend to err on the side of issuing temporary protection orders when they are requested.
At the same time that the temporary protection order issues, the judge sets a date for a hearing. The hearing must be set no more than fourteen days after the issuance of the temporary protection order. The person who sought the protection order must ensure that the protection order and notice of the hearing are personally served to the person restrained by the protection order.
At the hearing, the judge decides whether or not to issue a permanent protection order. The judge hears testimony from both parties, and from any witnesses that either party calls to testify. The judge decides whether, by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not), the person has committed acts that justify the issuance of a civil protection order, and whether he or she will continue to commit such acts unless he or she is restrained by a protection order.
Will I be arrested?
You will not be arrested because a person sought a civil protection order against you. You will not be arrested if a judge issues a temporary or permanent protection order against you. However, violating a protection order is a crime, and you may be arrested if the protected person calls the police and alleges that you violated the protection order.
What is the impact of a civil protection order on my criminal history?
Protection orders are requested and issued in court case, which will show up on background checks. That can have an impact on your reputation and on your ability to find jobs.
Who can speak to whom?
Protection orders make it illegal for you to communicate directly with, or be within a certain distance of, the person who filed the order against you. However, that person is still legally allowed to contact you unless they are prohibited from doing so for some other reason. If you live with the person who filed an order against you, you may be required to move out of your home.
Should I call a lawyer? When should I call a lawyer?
The best time to call a lawyer is immediately after finding out there is a restraining order filed against you. There are a variety of possible outcomes in protection order proceedings. Just because you are served with a temporary protection order, that does not mean that a permanent protection order will necessarily issue. It is frequently possible to secure an outcome in which you are are not the subject of a permanent protection order, or in which contact is limited but not completely prohibited.
If you did not call a lawyer and you are restrained by a permanent civil protection order, it isn’t necessarily too late. After a period of time, it is possible to petition the court to make even permanent protection orders go away.
Whatever part of the process you find yourself in, it is very important to have an experienced attorney on your side who can ensure your rights are protected and that you receive a fair hearing and a reasonable outcome.