In Colorado, individuals may seek a civil protection order restraining another person from having any direct or indirect contact with them. These protection orders begin as temporary, and either become permanent or expire. Such orders are not custody orders, and can only address custody, care, and decision-making regarding children on a temporary basis.
How is a Civil Protection Order Obtained?
The first step in obtaining a civil protection order is filling out all the required paperwork. Specifically, an individual seeking a protection order must fill out an incident checklist, a verified complaint or motion for a protection order, affidavit regarding children, and an information sheet for registering the protection order.
You will need to assess what county to file your protection order in. You can file in either the county where the incident giving rise to the need for a protection order occurred, where you reside, or where you work.
Then, once all of the paperwork has been completed, you will take the completed paperwork to the appropriate courthouse to file the case, and await your temporary protection order hearing. Your case will be called up in front of the Judge, who will listen to you explain why you feel you need the order. After listening to what you have to say, and possibly asking you a few questions about the situation, the Judge will either grant a temporary protection order, or decline to issue any order.
If the Judge grants a temporary order, a date for a permanent restraining order hearing will be set. You will need to serve the respondent with the temporary order prior to the permanent hearing. If the respondent is not personally served, then you will not be able to make your order permanent. Proof of service will be necessary for the permanent hearing unless the respondent appears and waives service, which sometimes can happen.
A permanent hearing is something of a mini-trial, unless the respondent simply agrees to have the order made permanent. Each side has an opportunity to give opening and closing statements, and to call witnesses to testify on their behalf. The rules of evidence do apply to these hearings.
At the conclusion of the evidence, the Court will impose a restraining order if he/she believes that, unless restrained, the acts constituting a basis for the temporary order will continue. The applicable standard of proof is a “preponderance” of the evidence, which is significantly lower than the beyond a reasonable doubt standard applicable in all criminal cases.
Fighting a Civil Protection Order – Why Retain an Attorney?
In order to obtain a temporary restraining order against you, all someone needs to do is make an allegation that you hurt or threatened them, and you are likely to do it again if an order of protection is not imposed. No proof or evidence is required to support any such allegations. Once the Judge approves their request, they will need to serve the documents on you in so as to require your appearance at a permanent protection order hearing. If you do not appear at that hearing, the order will become permanent. If you do appear, you can contest the allegations and the imposition of the protection order. It is highly recommended that you fight the imposition of a permanent protection order, and that as soon as you receive notice of the hearing you immediately locate a lawyer to defend you at that hearing.
Once a permanent protection order enters against you, you cannot petition for its removal for four years. A permanent protection order can have vast and serious consequences. It will appear on many background checks and may affect your ability to obtain a passport and even to travel. It can even cause you to lose your job and affect your ability to obtain housing. Firearm rights also are implicated.
An attorney can evaluate your case and determine the best strategy for defending your case. Should there also be a companion criminal case, the need for retaining a defense attorney is further heightened.
In some cases, pursuing a settlement with the party seeking the order may be advisable. An attorney can do that on your behalf either by contacting the protected party or by working with a mediator. Successfully negotiating a resolution can avoid the imposition of an order, and preserve your record. It is not a violation of the order for your attorney to contact the protected party.
Obtaining a Restraining Order – How Can a Lawyer Help?
Even if you are the one seeking a protection order, as opposed to fighting one, an attorney can still provide you with valuable help in preparing your case. An attorney’s familiarity with the rules of ethics and the appropriate legal standard for the imposition of an order can further ensure you give yourself the best chance of success in achieving your goals.
If you are contemplating filing a civil protection order, need help with an order already filed, or are fighting an order filed against you, give Attorney Kimberly Diego a call today to discuss your restraining order case.
To schedule a free initial consultation, call 720-257-5346 or fill out a free case review form, and a representative from the Law Office of Kimberly Diego will contact you as soon as possible.