An order of protection is a court order preventing an individual from engaging in activity that the alleged victim or the court perceives as threatening or causing harm to them. In domestic violence cases, the action begins when one person, called the Petitioner, files a motion against another person, called the Respondent, requesting that the court issue an injunction to stop certain behaviors or actions. Once the court issues a protective order, law enforcement can legally respond to any complaint by the victim or when they feel unsafe.
There are different versions of protection orders in every state, with different names and penalties. In Colorado, there are two types of domestic protection orders that are filed either in civil or criminal court, with varying penalties for violating them.
Allegations of domestic violence are serious, and the penalties for violating a restraining order can be severe, negatively impacting an individual’s reputation, ability to work and access to their family. There are two sides to every situation in a domestic case, and knowing your rights is the first step toward defending yourself when someone has accused you of domestic violence.
Civil and criminal protection orders
In Colorado, a civil protection order is one that the alleged victim files requiring the named person to remain a certain distance from the person seeking protection, and it can also include restrictions on gun ownership. An emergency order also immediately bars the named individual from entering the home, threatening, injuring or in any way contacting minor children. It is effective for three days unless the court orders its continuation.
The court will automatically initiate criminal protection orders after the criminal arrest of an individual for domestic violence, child or elder abuse, stalking, or menacing. These mandatory protection orders prevent the individual from retaliating against or in any way harassing the protected person. These orders go into effect even if the alleged victim changes their mind or drops charges.
Violating a protective order
Violating a protection order is a Class 2 misdemeanor that can result in up to a year in jail with fines of up to $1,000 for a civil order, and up to two years in jail and fines of up to $5,000 for a criminal order. These penalties upgrade to a Class 1 misdemeanor for any subsequent violations of protective orders and include extended jail sentences and increased fines. These penalties remain in place even if the individual is later found innocent of the charges.