Restraining orders (also called protection orders) are issued by the courts to protect an individual from harm. It prevents an alleged abuser from having any contact with their victims.
While each restraining order is unique, the general guidelines for each include prohibiting contact with the victim – even communications by phone, text, or social media. The restrained party must also avoid certain locations, such as the victim’s home, workplace, or school. Restraining orders are enforceable by typical policing methods (like arrest) or directly by courts (like a contempt action).
While domestic abuse cases often require restraining orders, there are other reasons for protection including:
In Colorado, there are three different types of restraining orders a victim can file (Civil Restraining or Protection Orders), and one type that is automatically imposed in criminal domestic violence cases (Criminal Restraining or Protection Orders), and it’s important to know the differences between them.
A TRO lasts for 14 days. It’s required to have a TRO in order to file for a permanent restraining order. Typically, a judge will review the complaint the day it’s filed and may require the victim testify at an ex parte hearing (without the proposed restrained party present), with the victim needing to show they are in imminent danger. If granted, the respondent will be served with the TRO, at which point it takes immediate effect.
When a victim obtains a TRO, a hearing is scheduled to consider a PRO. At the hearing, both the victim and adverse party are encouraged to obtain lawyers, as well as present evidence and witnesses on their behalf. The judge might decide to extend the TRO for up to 14 days (or longer if the parties agree), scheduling another hearing at that time. They will then decide if there is a need for a PRO.
If the PRO is granted, the adverse party could ask a judge to modify it, but only after it’s been in effect for two years.
EPOs are generally filed at the request of a police officer or other official who feels a victim is in imminent danger. These orders last for 3 days and usually occur when there is no time to file a complaint or the court is not open (weekends, holidays, etc.).
Restraining orders can also show up on background checks, even if the respondent wasn’t convicted.
MPOs are typically automatically imposed upon the filing of criminal charges relating to domestic violence or child abuse. An MPO can be modified if appropriate, but typically remain in place and enforceable throughout the entirety of a criminal proceeding and sentencing.
In Colorado, there are civil and criminal restraining orders for domestic abuse cases. Civil orders, as described above, are filed by the victim and granted if the court feels they are in danger.
While there’s controversy surrounding the effectiveness of restraining orders, The Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law found valuable research that supports a reduced risk of violence against the victim when they file a restraining order.
In domestic relations cases, restraining orders can also be used to protect children. Children, if in imminent danger, can be included as protected parties on restraining orders. However, even if the children are not in imminent danger and are not included as protected parties on a restraining order, the court is authorized to include in any restraining order “temporary care and custody” provisions if deemed necessary to protect the child’s parent. Because of this, if an abuse victim is seeking to escape an abusive spouse, a petition for dissolution of marriage can often be filed contemporaneously with a request for a restraining order. That restraining could, for example, include care and custody provisions as well as an order for the restrained party to not return to the victim’s home (even if the home is marital or jointly owned), potentially given the victim both the needed protection as well as an upperhand in litigation with respect to possession of a marital home and custody of the children.
If there’s probable cause an adverse party violated a restraining order, they might be arrested. The punishment depends on if it’s a civil or criminal order and whether it’s the first or subsequent offense.
A first-time civil offense violation can lead to a Class 2 misdemeanor charge with 3-12 months in jail and a fine. For criminal orders, that first offense is a Class 1 misdemeanor with 6-18 months in jail and anywhere from $500 — $5,000 in fines. Subsequent offenders typically receive increased jail time and additional fines.
We recommend hiring an attorney to help file the required paperwork for restraining orders. Our team of qualified experts can guide you through the process and make sure you feel safe. If you have any questions or need more information, contact us today.