A protective order, otherwise known as a restraining order, is designed to protect victims of domestic violence by legally requiring the alleged abuser to stay away. The state of Colorado takes protective orders very seriously because this type of regulation is only effective if law officers are committed to enforcing it, and violating a protective order is considered a crime in and of itself.
But what happens if the person who filed a protective order against you wrongfully accuses you of violating that order, or you’re arrested for doing something that you did not think was a violation? Even if you think that the situation was a misunderstanding, you’ll still need to work with a domestic violence attorney to build a strong defense in order to avoid the negative consequences of a criminal conviction.
Penalties for Violation of a Protection Order
Many Coloradans don’t realize that it’s possible to violate a protection order even if you don’t come into direct contact with the protected person. It all depends on the restrictions laid out in the specific protection order. For example, if your protection order states that you cannot engage in any kind of communication with the protected person, you could be found in violation for texting that person or sending a third party to give the protected person a message. If your protection order states that you must attend counseling and you miss a counseling session, you would also be found in violation.
In some cases, a defendant does not actually violate a protection order, but the protected party claims that they did. Emotions are often running high in cases involving protection orders, and some people unfortunately try to use the court system to get back at one another.
Regardless of the reason you’re being charged with the violation of your protection order, there are a number of consequences you may face. If this is the first time you’ve been charged with a violation, you will most likely face a class 2 misdemeanor, which is punishable by $250-$1,000 in fines and up to a year in jail. If you’ve previously been convicted of violating a protection order, the charge will be elevated to a class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by $500-$5,000 and up to 18 months in jail. A person who has been convicted of violating a protection order multiple times may also be subject to a modified sentencing range, depending on the threat that the court believes they pose to the protected person.
Building a Defense for Violation of a Protection Order
If you’ve been charged with the violation of a protection order, it’s in your best interest to contact a domestic violence attorney as soon as possible. If the protected party has accused you of violating a protection order but there is little evidence that you did, your attorney may be able to prove that there are no credible witnesses and not enough evidence to warrant a conviction. If there is evidence that you violated the protection order, your attorney may still be able to put the situation in context and prove that there were mitigating circumstances. In some cases, your attorney may actually be able to prove that your protection order wasn’t served correctly and that you are therefore not violating it.
Don’t wait around to find out what negative outcomes you may face for violating a protection order—take a proactive approach by calling a defense lawyer.
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..