Frequently Asked Questions on Protection Orders


11599801_sWhat is a protection order?

In Colorado, a protection order—also referred to as a protective order or restraining order—is an order enacted to protect a person believed to be in danger of being harmed by a specific individual.

What can a protection order do?

A protective order generally prohibits an identified individual from contacting the protected individual in person, by phone, on the computer or via a third party. It also often requires the restrained person to stay away from locations that the protected individual is likely to be, such as his or her place of residence, work, or school. In a domestic violence case, the restrained individual may be required to vacate the home of the alleged victim, regardless of whether he or she is the owner or co-owner of the home.

Is there a difference between a criminal and civil restraining order?

Yes. The court usually issues a criminal restraining order, usually called a mandatory protection order, as part of a criminal case. This type of order is more common in cases of domestic violence and child abuse.

A civil restraining order, on the other hand, may be issued to prevent incidents of stalking, domestic abuse, or assaults. It can also be used to prevent abuse of the elderly or at risk adults. This type of order is often sought after in divorce proceedings by a party who feels threatened. A civil restraining order may be issued with or without criminal charges being filed.

How long does a protection order last?

The duration of a protection order depends on the type or order issued by the court. An emergency protection order typically lasts 24 to 48 hours. A temporary protection order can last for 14 days, after which a judge will determine if a permanent protective order is necessary. A permanent protection order can remain in effect indefinitely, unless or until the court cancels the order.

While a civil protection order may be permanent, a criminal protection order only lasts as long as the criminal case does. This means the protection order goes away if the defendant is acquitted or the case is dismissed. If the defendant is convicted, however, then the protection order lasts for the duration of the defendant’s sentence—including probation.

Is a protection order enforceable if I move out of state?

Yes. If you are moving out of state or leaving the state for any reason, then your protection order will still be deemed enforceable. Each state must enforce out-of-state protection orders in a manner similar to how it would enforce its own orders. An abuser who violates your out-of-state protection order, therefore, will be punished according to the laws of the state you are in at the time that the order is violated.

What happens if a protection order is violated?

In Colorado, failing to abide by the terms of a protective order is considered a serious criminal offense. Violating the order for the first-time may be charged as a class 2 misdemeanor offense, which may result in up to one year in jail upon conviction.

Can a permanent protection order be modified or dismissed?

Yes, a permanent protective order may still be modified or dismissed in the future. The victim or the restrained individual may file a petition with the court to modify or dismiss the protective order. A hearing will then occur to determine whether the request should be granted.