Domestic Violence and Protection Orders
A person seeking protection from another can file for a civil Protection Order in county court. Civil Protection Orders differ from criminal protection orders. A civil order can be requested by a party seeking protection from someone with whom they have been in an intimate relationship. A criminal Protection Order, on the other hand, is pursued by the state to protect a party who has been a victim in a crime that the state has chosen to prosecute.Initial Request
The first step in obtaining a Protection Order is to request a temporary order, usually in county court. The order is often requested Ex Parte, meaning without notice to the other party. There is no filing fee for victims of domestic abuse and filing can be done by completing a fill in the blank “Complaint.” There will be a short hearing in front of a Judge where the requesting party must explain why he or she should be given a Temporary Protection Order (TPO). The requestor testifies under oath, however no other evidence is required at this initial hearing.
If a Court issues an order at this stage, it will be a temporary order and both parties will have to come to court for a hearing at a later time in order for the court to consider whether to issue a Permanent Protection Order. The legal standard for obtaining a TPO is “imminent danger.” Imminent danger is not required for the issuance of a Permanent Protection Order (PPO), however. The legal standard for a PPO is that domestic abuse has occurred and without a PPO is likely to continue. At the PPO hearing, the alleged abuser can present evidence on his or her behalf to attempt to convince the Judge that a PPO should not issue. If the alleged abuser does not convince the Court that a PPO should not issue, the Court can make the TPO permanent and can also order the Respondent to pay the attorney’s fees of the Petitioner.Protections
There are a number of protections available under a TPO and PPO. The orders can:
- Prohibit a party from coming within a certain distance of another;
- Restrain a party from threatening, molesting, injuring, or contacting a party or the minor children of either party;
- Restrain a party from contacting the other or the minor child;
- Exclude a party from the family home or the home of the other;
- Exclude a party from the other’s workplace
If a TPO is issued, the party obtaining the order must have it served on the opposing party so the opposing party knows of the order and the hearing date. Notice and an opportunity to be heard are fundamental due process rights. The Sherriff can serve the TPO for free for victims of domestic abuse. The follow-on PPO hearing can not occur until the other party has been served. If the accused has been served and does not appear at the PPO hearing, then the Judge may transform the TPO into a PPO. If the filer does not appear, the Judge will usually dismiss the PPO request.Firearms
If the Court issues a PPO, the Respondent can not possess firearms as long as the order is in effect. Although the order is permanent, the Respondent can ask that it be lifted or modified after two years have passed. The Petitioner, on the other hand, can ask at any time that the Order be lifted or modified.Mutual Restraining Orders
A Court will not issue mutual restraining orders unless both parties have met the “preponderance of the evidence” standard showing that an order is necessary against the other. Preponderance of the evidence is a lower standard than the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard applied in criminal court and means “more likely than not.”Enforcement
Violation of a civil TPO or PPO is a crime. A person who violates a TPO or PPO can be found in contempt of court and prosecuted.Full Faith and Credit
Colorado will recognize TPOs and PPOs issued by out of state courts if the out of state court had jurisdiction to issue the order and due process rights were met.
If you are in need of a civil protection order, consult with a family law attorney who understands the need for safety and security and can assist you in obtaining one. With expertise in Colorado divorce and family legal issues, JLaw helps you create your own solutions. To learn more, contact our office and schedule a confidential consultation. We will speak with you to address your concerns and answer your questions. We can also discuss collateral issues such as child support, property division, allocation of parental responsibilities and any other topics related to your family protection order.