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What is a Protection Order?

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Most Colorado protection orders (also called restraining orders) fall under one of two categories: (1) Civil Protection Orders or (2) Criminal Protection Orders.

Civil Protection Orders

People who are afraid for their safety may ask the Court for a Civil Protection Order. The purpose of a Civil Protection Order is to prevent assaults, threatened bodily harm, domestic abuse, emotional abuse of the elderly/at risk adult, or stalking.  The victim who asks for a Civil Protection Order is called the Petitioner or Protected Party. The person who the order is against is called the Respondent or Restrained Party. When a civil protection is issued, the following are the most common terms:

  1. Restrained Party shall not contact (subject to the terms of the protection order), harass, stalk, injure, intimidate, threaten, touch, sexually assault, abuse, or molest the Protected Party; or harm, take, transfer, conceal, or dispose of or threaten harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by any Protected Party or a minor child of a Protected Party.
  2. The Restrained Party shall not use, attempt to use, or threaten to use physical force against the Protected Party that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury.
  3. The Restrained Party shall not engage in any conduct that would place the Protected Party in reasonable fear of bodily injury.
  4. The Restrained Party not have contact of any kind with the Protected Party and not attempt to contact the Protected Party through any third person (except an attorney). However, Courts may modify the no contact provision on an individual case basis.  For example, if the Restrained and Protected Party share a minor child, the Court may allow contact to exchange the child or allow contact in a public place to attend the child’s events.
  5. The Court can order the Restrained Party to keep a certain distance from specific addresses, such as the Protected Party’s home, business, school, place of work.
  6. Civil protection orders can award temporary custody of a joint child to the Protected Party.
  7. Restrained Party’s can be ordered to not end payments for mortgage, rent, insurance, utilities, transportation, medical care, or childcare when the Restrained Party had a prior existing obligation to make such payments.
  8. Restrained Party’s can be ordered not to transfer, encumber, conceal, or dispose of personal effects or property, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life.
  9. Restrained Party’s can be ordered not to possess and/or purchase a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon.
  10. Restrained Party can be ordered not to interfere with the Protected Party’s place of employment or education and not engage in conduct that impairs the Protected Party’s employment, educational relationships, or environment.
  11. In all domestic abuse cases, the Restrained Party will be ordered to relinquish all firearms and ammunition and then file an affidavit with the Court showing proof of relinquishment.

Any adult may go to their local Courthouse and request that a Temporary Civil Protection Order (TPO) be issued to protect themselves and/or their minor child(ren) if he or she is in imminent (immediate) danger.  The steps to obtaining a civil protection order are as follows:

  • Go to your Courthouse and fill out the appropriate paperwork (or hire an attorney to draft and file the paperwork). Each courthouse will have copies of the appropriate forms.
  • Usually on the same day you fill out the paperwork, you will be brought before a judge for a “temporary civil protection order hearing.” This hearing is held without notice or the presence of the Restrained Party.
  • At the temporary civil protection order hearing, if the judge finds that you are in imminent danger of abuse or threats, the judge will issue a Temporary Civil Protection Order (TPO). If the Court grants the order, a TPO lasts for two weeks or until the Permanent Protection Order Hearing. At the Permanent Protection Order Hearing, the judge will decide if the order will be made permanent, continued for up to a year if both the Protected Party and the Restrained Party agree, or be dismissed.  The Permanent Protection Order Hearing must be held within 14 days of when the TPO was issued.
  • Prior to the Permanent Protection Order Hearing, the Restrained Party must be personally served with the Temporary Protection Order (TPO). This is typically the first notification to the Restrained Party about the action. A TPO goes into effect once it has been served on the Restrained Party. “Serve” means that an adult who is not a part of the case, usually a Sheriff’s deputy or process server, gives a copy of the TPO paperwork to the Restrained Party. Service is important because it lets the other party in the case know that a case has been filed against them.
  • At the Permanent Protection Order Hearing each side will present their evidence by calling witnesses and introducing exhibits. For the Protected Party to be awarded a Permanent Protection Order, they must convince the Court by a “preponderance of the evidence” that (1) the Restrained Party did the things that led to the Temporary Protection Order (TPO) being granted, and (2) that the Restrained Party will keep doing those things if there is not a Permanent Protection Order, or that the Protected Party is in in imminent danger of further abuse, threats, or retaliation by the Restrained Party if the protection order is not made permanent.

Any violation of the Restrained Party to the terms of the protection order is a crime and he/she may be arrested and prosecuted for the violation.

If you are in danger and desire a Civil Protection Order, Burnham Law has attorneys standing by to help you obtain a protection order.  Burnham Law stands by its history of using the tools allowed by law to protect victims of domestic abuse.

If you are named in as a Restrained Party on a Civil Protection Order.  Burnham Law understands the long list of collateral consequences that come along with a Civil Protection Order.  Burnham Law has a track record of successfully defending past clients against the imposition of a Permanent Protection Order.  Additionally, Burnham Law has the knowledge to negotiate various agreements that can significantly reduce the collateral consequences of a Permanent Protection Order.

Criminal Protection Orders

Colorado law requires that a Mandatory Protection Order (MPO) be issued against any person charged with a crime under any provision of Title 18 of the Colorado Criminal Code.  This criminal MPO remains in effect from the time of the initial appearance of the defendant until the final disposition of the case (a jury verdict, the end of the sentence, or a dismissal of all charges).

A criminal Mandatory Protection Order (MPO) can address many facets of a Defendant’s life.  Generally, an MPO forbids a Defendant from harassing the alleged victim of a crime. Every criminal MPO issued must contain a provision that “restrains the person charged from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness to or victim of the acts charged.” An MPO can also protect any witnesses to an alleged crime and can forbid a Defendant from contacting such witnesses.

Court’s generally issue a criminal Mandatory Protection Order (MPO) at the Defendant’s first court appearance. This is often the arraignment for the underlying crime. At this stage of the process, the judge will inform the Defendant of their rights and then will order the Defendant to not interact with the alleged victim or witnesses. Most judges will make the MPO part of the Defendant’s bond and thus violating the terms of the MPO means that the Defendant is also in violation of their bond. This can lead to serious penalties and additional criminal charges. It will also make the terms of your bail much harsher.

In addition, under certain crimes that involve alleged domestic violence or other serious crimes (listed in C.R.S §24-4.1-302) the Court may impose any of the following orders:

  • The Defendant vacate or stay away from the home of the alleged victim or witness and to stay away from any other location where the victim or witness is likely to be found;
  • To refrain from contact or direct or indirect communication with the alleged victim or witness;
  • An order prohibiting possession or control of firearms or other weapons;
  • An order prohibiting possession or consumption of alcohol or controlled substances;
  • An order prohibiting the taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing or, or threatening to harm an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by an alleged victim or witness; and
  • Any other order the court deems appropriate to protect the safety of the alleged victim or witness.

Criminal Mandatory Protection Orders (MPO) can be modified by the Court.  This allows for the Defendant or the Prosecution to ask the Court to modify or add terms to the MPO.  The process for changing the terms of an MPO is a formal one, meaning the judge must approve the modifications for it to be effective. Until the judge signs off on the motion requesting a modification to the MPO, the terms remain in full force and effect. It is important to remember that even if the Defendant and the alleged victim agree informally (without a court order) to modify or ignore the terms of an MPO, the MPO remains in full force and effect and a violation of the MPO can lead to an arrest or additional criminal charges for the Defendant. It is also important to remember that the terms of the MPO only apply to the Defendant. Hence, even if the alleged victim/Protected Party makes or attempts to make contact with the Defendant, only the Defendant can violate the MPO as they are the only Restrained Party.

Any violation of a criminal Mandatory Protection Order (MPO) can be charged as a new crime against the Defendant.


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Partner - Domestic Relations & Criminal Defense

Colorado Springs

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