Impact of Civil Protection Orders on Law Enforcement Professionals
Law enforcement professionals occasionally find themselves in civil court as a party to a protection order action. Being listed as “Respondent” on a civil restraining order has substantial implications for a law enforcement professional’s career. In order to obtain a Temporary Protection Order (TPO), which can lead to a Permanent Protection Order (PPO), an applicant simply has to provide facts to support domestic abuse and imminent harm. If the temporary order is granted, the Respondent can have no contact with the applicant and sometimes others such as children, until the PPO hearing. At the PPO hearing imminent harm need not be shown.Firearms Restrictions
Protection orders can prohibit a law enforcement professional from carrying a weapon. The Respondent must then sell or transfer all weapons to a federally-licensed firearms dealer or turn them in to a law enforcement agency for storage. A dealer or law enforcement agency must issue a receipt at the time of relinquishment which the surrenderer can provide to the Court. A law enforcement agency can charge a fee for storage and is not required to store weapons.
The surrender includes the officer’s duty weapon, which usually is turned over to the employer. The surrender requirement often results in the officer being unable to perform their former duty. A PPO is registered with the Colorado Bureau of Investigation as well as with the National Crime Information Center.Protection Order Procedure
The law enforcement professional has the opportunity to defend him or herself at the PPO hearing. The hearing is set within 14 days of the issuance of the TPO and each party can request a continuance of up to 14 days for good cause. The professional can also enter into a no contact order with the other party, which is essentially a contract that is not registered in crime databases. He or she can also agree to extend the TPO for up to one year. It is important that the Respondent enlist the assistance of counsel at this point to explore options and determine the best course of action.
If the professional testifies at a hearing, he or she will testify under oath under penalty of perjury. The transcript can be used as evidence in other matters, to include domestic relations matters. Although a professional may invoke his or her fifth amendment right to remain silent in a civil proceeding, unlike in criminal court, the Judge can draw a negative inference from their silence. The decision about whether to testify can be complex and depend on many factors. Counsel can also potentially assist in settling the case to avoid hearings as well.
If the matter does go to hearing, the Petitioner has the burden of proof. The Petitioner presents their evidence first, and calls witnesses to testify. The Respondent can question the Petitioner on allegations and their factual basis. The Respondent can then put on their case. If the Respondent
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