Accusations of domestic violence are a serious matter—even if the alleged incident never actually occurred. In order to protect actual victims of abuse, Colorado has mandatory arrest laws for anyone who has been accused of domestic violence.
The law requires police to arrest any person when “there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence.” In the real world, this means that if the police respond to a report of domestic abuse—regardless of whether the alleged victim retracts their accusation—someone will be arrested.
One of the little-known results of this is that the accused individual will be hit with a civil protection order. This is something that can really disrupt your regular life, and it doesn’t require a conviction – you just need to be arrested.
Civil Protection Orders in Colorado
The reason this occurs is because Colorado law requires the courts to issue a mandatory civil protection order, colloquially known as a restraining order, whenever someone is arrested for domestic violence. A civil domestic violence protection order prohibits the accused abuser from contacting their accuser in any way, and can also include the children of the alleged victim.
Civil protection orders may also prohibit you from going within a certain distance of places where the alleged victim might be. This includes his or her home—regardless of whether that home is also yours.
In Colorado, there are three different types of civil protection orders an individual accused of domestic violence may face. It’s important to note that for the first two types of protection orders, the police do not even have to be
- Temporary Protection Order. A temporary protection order (also known as an ex parte protection order) is issued if the judge believes the alleged victim is in immediate danger. These can even be filed against you without your knowledge.
In fact, “ex parte” roughly translates to “from one side only.” That’s because these orders can be issued without the accused person appearing in court. An ex parte protection order is meant to protect the alleged victim for the time period that it takes for your full court hearing, usually about 14 days.
- Permanent Protection Order. For a permanent protection order to be put in place, both the alleged abuser and victim must appear in court for the hearing. This usually happens after the temporary protection order has already been issued.
When both parties are present, the judge can continue the protection order for up to one year if both parties agree. If there is disagreement between the two parties about the protection order, however, the judge will preside over a “contested hearing.” During this hearing, both sides will testify and present their evidence to the judge. Keep in mind this hearing is separate from any criminal charges you will face.
If the judge determines there is sufficient evidence that domestic violence occurred, he or she can make the protection order permanent.
- Emergency Protection Orders. An emergency protection order can be requested and issued by local law enforcement, based on the idea that an adult or minor child is in immediate danger of domestic abuse.
This also can be issued if the victim is in immediate danger of sexual offenses, assault, stalking, sexual assault, or sexual abuse. If the victim in question is a minor, the order can be requested by the county department of social services or another “responsible person.”
What Happens if You Violate a Protection Order?
Violating a civil protection order is charged as a Class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to $250 in fines, 12 months in jail, or both. Note that this is a separate charge from the domestic violence-related charges that you may face.
If you have been accused of domestic violence, it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable criminal lawyer as soon as you can. Doing so not only protects your rights, but also is your best chance at avoiding serious criminal charges.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.