In Colorado, domestic violence is defined as violence or abuse committed against someone in the context of a marriage or intimate relationship. Domestic violence does not discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, gender, religion, or sexual orientation can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. Domestic violence affects people of all education levels and socioeconomic backgrounds. Deciding to leave a dangerous relationship is the first step to protecting yourself. Emotions are high, when a relationship is ending, and, if conflict in your relationship creates the likelihood of violence, you may want to consider getting a protection order to protect yourself.
In Colorado, protection orders (more commonly known as restraining orders) can be issued in either the criminal or civil context. While criminal protection orders may be issued at the commencement of a criminal case, they only last as long as the criminal case and, potentially, the subsequent punishment. If you are a victim of domestic violence, stalking, harassment, or other abuse, there are benefits to seeking a Permanent Civil Protection Order, even if a criminal protection order is currently in place.
Why a Civil Protection Order?
Unlike most criminal protection orders, a civil protection order can be made permanent. If a civil protection order is made permanent, there is not an automatic expiration date. Therefore, the standard to obtain a Permanent Protection Order is high, and it can be difficult.
To obtain a Permanent Protection Order, you need to show that the restrained person will continue to behave in a way that threatens your safety if a protection order is not in place. This often involves looking back at a history of conflict in the relationship, as well as analyzing the current situation. An experienced family law attorney can help you determine what evidence is most helpful, making it more likely a court will agree that a protection order is necessary.
Additionally, while many criminal protection orders only prohibit a person from being within a certain proximity of a person, a civil protection order often protects locations. This means that your home, place of work, your children’s school, and other places may be included on a Permanent Civil Protection Order, adding another layer of security for you and your family.
Initiating the Civil Protection Order Process
Before obtaining a Permanent Protection Order, an “ex parte” Temporary Protection Order hearing will take place. Each county handles this process differently and some courts only hear these ex parte proceedings at certain times or on certain days. Before you appear to tell the judge your story, paperwork must be filed with the court outlining your current concerns, the history of your case, and information regarding all parties involved. It is imperative that this paperwork is handled with care, as failing to include significant information can impact your ability to obtain a protection order.
During the Temporary Protection Order hearing, the judge will hear testimony and review any evidence that you may have showing you are in imminent danger. Showing a risk of imminent harm can be tricky and, therefore, it may be beneficial to speak with an experienced family law attorney prior to filing your paperwork and attending the hearing.
If a Temporary Protection Order is obtained, the other party must be served with the proper paperwork. They are not restrained in any way until service takes place, so it is critical that you achieve service as soon as possible. Service can be a simple process, but it also may require the expertise of someone who understands how to properly serve someone who is difficult to find or serve.
Obtaining the Permanent Protection Order
Typically, within 14 days of the Temporary Protection Order hearing, a Permanent Protection Order hearing will take place. A Permanent Protection Order is a serious matter, as the Respondent’s employment, immigration status, housing, and parenting time can all be impacted. A Respondent may also be required to relinquish all weapons, guns, and ammunition. Because of the impact a Permanent Protection Order can have on a Respondent’s life, it is much more challenging to obtain a Permanent Protection Order than a Temporary Protection Order. If you are asking the protection order to be made permanent, you will be required to convince the court that abuse, stalking, harassment, or violence has occurred, but also that the it is likely to continue if a protection order is not made permanent.
The Court can also make orders regarding parenting time during a Permanent Protection Order hearing. These orders can significantly impact you and your children. If believe that your children are in danger, it is crucial that you are prepared to show the judge why your children should be included in the protection order.
If you believe you need a protection order, or have an upcoming Permanent Protection Order hearing, contact our attorneys who are seasoned in issues of domestic violence and protection orders.