Protective Orders, Restraining Orders – What’s the Difference in CO?

This question has a simple answer. There is no difference in Colorado.

Protective orders, also commonly referred to as restraining orders, are intended to stop one person from harming another. It’s also referred to as a protection order. Therefore, we will use these three terms interchangeably.

Unfortunately, answering many of the other questions surrounding these orders isn’t so simple.

How do protective orders work? What are the terms of a protective order, and what happens if you violate one? If you’re hit with a protective order, what collateral consequences will you face day-to-day? How long will a protective order stay in effect?

Below, we break down how restraining orders work, the terms of a Colorado protective order, and some of the consequences you could face for violating one.

How Colorado Protective Orders Work

There are three types of protective orders in Colorado: the temporary protective order, the permanent protective order, and the emergency protective order.

All of them are issued to protect victims from domestic abuse, stalking, sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, or other forms of bodily injury. They are different largely based on the relationship of when they are filed and how quickly a victim (and/or law enforcement) feels the protection is needed.

In most cases, the alleged victim will first seek a temporary protection order, which can be obtained by filing a motion with a judge, without the alleged aggressor present. If the judge grants this order, it is then served to the other party.

If a protective order is necessary during a time when courts are closed (for example, the weekend), law enforcement can issue an emergency protective order to the alleged aggressor.

The order will be reviewed by the court within three business days. At this point, it will either be dropped, or the temporary protective order will be issued.

Within 14 days of the temporary protective order issuance, a hearing for a permanent protection order will occur. The accused may be present at this hearing, and both parties may present evidence for and against the allegations of harm to the alleged victim.

At the conclusion of the trial, the order will either be dropped, or a permanent protection order will be issued.

Terms of a Colorado Protective Order

If you’re hit with a protective order, you will be required to do the following:

  • Avoid the victim’s workplace, residence, or other addresses that the victim frequents, regardless of his or her presence there.
  • If you live with the victim, vacate your home.
  • Relinquish possession of firearms and other weapons, at least temporarily.
  • Avoid any form of contact, including phone calls, written communications, electronic communications, or even passing messages to the victim through mutual friends.
  • In some cases, relinquish custody of any children you have together to the alleged victim, at least temporarily.

This is not a comprehensive list. If you are caught violating these or any additional terms handed down when the protective order is written, you stand to risk everything.

Protective Order Violations in Colorado

If you’re served with a protective order, you must absolutely respect its terms without exception, regardless of the validity of the allegations against you. Even if the supposed victim attempts to contact you, you must not reply, as even this could be considered a violation. In fact, you should block the alleged victim’s phone, email, and social media accounts from your phone.

A violation is a misdemeanor criminal offense in and of itself. Further, violations will affect the issuance of a permanent protective order, and potentially other criminal charges you could have against you, such as domestic violence allegations.

Colorado Restraining Orders

A protection order can have profound effects on daily life. Furthermore, the speed at which protective order proceedings progress necessitates immediate action on your part.

If you’re hit with a protective order, you’ll need to involve an experienced Denver defense attorney immediately in order to mitigate the damage on your future.


About the Author:

Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.