Protection orders, also called restraining orders, limit your freedoms and can be emotionally stressful. Restraining orders are often filed by exes or family members and may prohibit defendants from seeing their children, other loved ones – even pets!
Each order is different, but penalties for violating protection orders are serious. So it is important to learn as much as you can about your next steps upon receiving a protection order.
We’ve listed everything you need to know in order to understand your protection order, stay out of trouble, and hopefully get the order reversed.
Different Types of Protection Orders in Colorado
There are many reasons someone could file a restraining order against you. The person that files the restraining order is called the “petitioner.” As the defendant, you have either been issued one of two protection orders: a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a permanent restraining order (PRO).
Restraining orders will be issued in criminal court if you have already been charged with specific crimes, or in a civil court if the petitioner feels that he or she needs legal protection from you.
TROs only last two weeks and provide a transition into issuing a PRO. At the time that you are issued a TRO, you should be issued a date and time in which you are to appear in court and may be issued a PRO. Permanent restraining orders last for one year, with the possibility of being renewed or reversed.
Actually, there’s one other type of protection order – the emergency protection order (EPO). This type of protection order may be issued if the petitioner needs to file an order during the holidays or a time that court is not in session. You cannot violate your protection order, however, until a sheriff or adult (not the petitioner) has physically served you the order.
Firearms and Protection Orders
If you have been issued a protection order, it’s important to immediately get rid of any firearms. According to Colorado state law, a judge is required to specifically order that you relinquish your firearms if your restraining order meets federal standards. (Federal law prohibits anyone who has been issued a protection order from buying or owning firearms.)
Penalties for Violating a Restraining Order
Violating a protection order is considered a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado; penalties for this type of crime include up to 18 months in jail and fines up to $5,000.
If you commit crimes while violating your restraining order, you will face separate charges and higher sentences.
How to Prevent Being Charged
Consider the following when you are under the restrictions of a protection order:
- If you protection order prohibits you from contacting your ex, family members, etc., delete their contact information. Remove them from your social media accounts. A butt dial or sending them a notification can be used against you in court, so minimize any chance of contacting them by accident.
- Keep your protection order on you at all times. Not only will this remind you of where you can and cannot go, but it will also prevent you from being charged by mistake and need to show peace officers that you are acting within the rules of your protection order.
- Keep proof of purchases or entry into certain buildings in case you are falsely accused of violating your protection order. Receipts and witness testimonies will be the best way to prove your alibi and your innocence.
Getting the Protection Order Reversed
The best way to prove to the court that your protection order should be reversed is to obey the rules of the protection order. Violating your protection order will severely hurt your chances.
Protection orders can be reversed if the original order was filed during a misunderstanding, or the issues have been resolved. However, reversing a protection order requires legal action and may take some time.
Even if both you and the petitioner have agreed on reversing the protection order, you will still have to go to court. The petitioner will have to file another petition and provide the court with the original copy of the protection order.
If the defendant wants to petition the protection order, there are more forms to fill out and hoops to jump through, including a criminal history record check. It is recommended that you hire an attorney while trying to petition your restraining order.
If you have an upcoming court date in which you may be issued or reissued a protection order, or face charges for violating a protection order, it is important to craft a solid defense and fight for your freedoms. Contact a knowledgeable Colorado protection order attorney to get started on your case.
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 2012-2016 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.