Civil protection orders (sometimes called a restraining order) in Colorado are designed to protect individuals from assaults or threats of bodily harm, to prevent domestic violence, to prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or an at-risk adult, to prevent sexual assault or abuse, and to prevent stalking. If the Order is Temporary, a hearing must be set within 2 weeks for the Court to determine whether it is made permanent. Once made permanent, the Order means exactly that – it lasts forever unless it is changed or modified by the Court or the parties. The restrained personal cannot request the Order be dismissed or changed for at least two years after it is issued.
What is a Protection Order?
A civil protection order is granted by a judge or magistrate and is intended to protect the person seeking the order. A protection order may be sought against an adult or a juvenile at least 10 years of age.
The person seeking a protection order is referred to as the “protected party” or “plaintiff.” The person against whom the order is sought is referred to as the “restrained party,” “Respondent,” or “defendant.”
The order prohibits the other person from:
- Communicating with them
- Being within a certain distance of them, their home, school, or workplace
- Harming or threatening the applicant’s child
- Harming or threatening the applicant’s pet
- Continuing to possess or purchasing a firearm while the order is in place
- Returning to a shared residence, even if you own it
- Stop paying for insurance or a mortgage – meaning they cannot retaliate financially once an order is issued
These types of orders are commonly used in domestic violence cases, neighbor disputes, and in other family court proceedings where the parties are experiencing high conflict. An order can be issued only if the court finds that there is an imminent danger to the person seeking the order.
Where to File for a Protection Order
The party seeking a protection order can file in the county in which they live or where any alleged conduct occurred. People typically choose their own county unless there is an existing divorce case or criminal matter pending in another jurisdiction. Courts prefer that you file in the same county as other pending matters to avoid the appearance of “forum shopping.”
Temporary Protection Orders
A person who feels they are in imminent danger can request a temporary protection order from the court. They simply need to state what has happened and why they feel they are in danger. There is no requirement that the conduct was ever reported to police or that charges were filed. There is no time period after an event or threat in which the request for the order must be filed.
Generally, a temporary protection order hearing is heard on the same day in which the motion is filed (always check with your local court’s website). At the hearing, the judge will consider the evidence, which is typically the forms filled out and your own statements. The hearing can be ex parte, which means the accused person does not have to be present. If the court finds that a temporary protection order is necessary, one will be issued, and it will last until the next hearing date which must occur within 14-days.
At the permanent protection order hearing there are three possible outcomes:
- The parties agree to continue the order for up to one year
- The judge does not extend the other and the case is dismissed
- The judge enters a permanent protection order after a hearing on the evidence
Permanent Protection Orders
Once the temporary protection order is issued, the protected party is responsible for having the restrained party personally served with all of the paperwork, including the next court date. If service is not completed before the permanent orders hearing date, the case may be dismissed so service is essential. If the restrained party is served but fails to appear for court, the temporary order can be made permanent by default.
The permanent protection order hearing is essentially a mini trial in which both sides are present and can be represented by counsel. Any information you want the court to consider such as emails, texts, videos, must be submitted to the court and the restrained party. The disclosure deadline, as well as making copies of documents, vary by county so check your local court website.
The burden is on the person seeking the protection order to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the restrained party has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order and that unless restrained will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the protected person. If this burden is met, the judge or magistrate shall order the temporary civil protection order to be made permanent or enter a permanent civil protection order with provisions different from the temporary civil protection order. Imminent danger is not a requirement for issuing a permanent protection order. However, the court must believe that without one, the restrained party will continue the same behavior.
How Long Does a Permanent Protection Order Last?
A permanent protection order remains in place forever unless and until a court modifies or dismisses it. It does not expire on its own. After the order has been in place for two years, the person restrained by the order can apply to the court for it to be modified or dismissed. The person who applied for the order can address the court and present their point of view.
The protected party can dismiss the protection order at any time by filing a motion with the court.
Modifying or Dismissing a Permanent Protection Order
The court must consider the following factors when deciding whether to modify or dismiss the order:
- Whether the restrained person voluntarily participated in a domestic violence treatment program or sex offender treatment program if applicable
- Whether the restrained person has been convicted of or pled guilty to a misdemeanor or felony (other than the incident that led to the order) against the protected party since the order was entered
- Whether conditions included in the order were complied with
- When the last abuse, harm, or threat occurred
- The circumstances of the parties, including how far apart their homes, schools, and workplaces are and if they have minor children together
- If the restrained person complied with court ordered domestic violence treatment program or sex offender treatment program
- If the restrained person complied with the terms of the protection order
- If the continued safety of the applicant depends upon the order staying in place because it has successfully prevented harm
- If other protective or restraining orders have been entered against the restrained person in any state
- How much time has elapsed since the order was entered
If the person restrained by the order at any point is found guilty of or pleads guilty to a felony or misdemeanor against the applicant (for a crime not related to what formed the basis for the order of protection), then the order will be permanent and not modifiable at any point by the restrained party.
If you are seeking a protective order in Colorado or one is being sought against you, it is important to have experienced legal representation. The attorneys at Burnham Law are skilled in protective orders and are ready to vigorously defend you and your interests. Get in touch with us now by calling 303-647-9113.