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Know the Laws: Colorado

UPDATED September 18, 2017

Domestic Violence Protection Orders

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A Colorado protection order is a civil order that provides protection from harm by (1) any person who is or has been related to you by blood or marriage, (2) any person who has lived with you or lives with you now, or (3) any person with whom you have had an intimate relationship.

After the order is in place

back to topWhat should I do when I leave the courthouse?

Here are some steps that you may want to take as you are preparing to leave the courthouse:

  • Review the protection order before you leave the courthouse.  If something is wrong or missing, ask the clerk to correct the order before you leave.
  • Obtain several copies of the protection order.
  • Leave a copy of the protection order at your work place, at your home, in your car, with a sympathetic neighbor, in your purse, and if children are included, then at the children’s school or daycare.  Basically, make sure that you have a copy of the protection order available at all times.  Once the defendant has been served, put a copy of the return of service with all copies of the protection order.
  • Give a copy to the security guard or person at the front desk where you live and/or work along with a photo of the abuser.
  • Give a copy of the protection order to anyone who is named in and protected by the order.
  • Be sure that the information you provided on the information sheet for registering a protection order is complete and accurate so that police are able to effectively enforce the order.  For more information about the information sheet for registering a protection order, see Step 1: Get the required forms.
Note: A protection order is not a guarantee of your safety.  Ongoing safety planning is important after receiving the order.  Many batterers obey protection orders, but some do not, and it is important to build on the things you have already been doing to keep yourself safe.  For suggestions on staying safe, visit our Staying Safe page.  Advocates at local resource centers can assist you in designing a safety plan and can provide other forms of support.  To find an advocate in your area please visit our CO State and Local Programs page.  Remember that if the abuser violates the order in any way, you can report the violation to your local law enforcement, and s/he may be arrested.

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back to topCan I get my domestic violence protection order from Colorado enforced if I move?

Yes, federal law provides what is called "full faith and credit," which means that once you have a criminal or civil protection order, it follows you wherever you go, including U.S. Territories and tribal lands.  Many states do have laws or regulations (rules) about registering or filing of out-of-state orders, which can make enforcement easier, but a valid restraining order is enforceable regardless of whether it has been registered or filed in the new state.* 

Rules differ from state to state, so it may be helpful to find out what the rules are in your new state.  You can contact a local domestic violence organization for more information by visiting our State and Local Programs page and entering your new state in the drop-down menu.  You may also call the National Center on Full Faith and Credit (1-800-903-0111 x 2) for information on enforcing your order in another state.

Note: For information on enforcing a military protective order (MPO) off the military installation, or enforcing a civil protection order (CPO) on a military installation, please see our Military Protective Orders page.

* 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)

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back to topWhat can I do if the abuser violates the protection order?

If you believe that the abuser has violated the protection order, you can call 911 (or you can file a motion for contempt in the court that issued the order).  When the police arrive:

  • The officer/deputy should interview you and the defendant (if s/he is still on the premises) separately.  If they do not do this, ask the officer/deputy to speak to you in private, away from the abuser.
  • Show the officer your protection order and the return of service form if the order is temporary.  The return of service form proves that the abuser was served with the temporary order.
  • Try to stay calm and tell the police what happened in the order that it happened.  If you would like additional support, you can have a friend with you or ask the officer to call a victim advocate to the scene.  If the officer will not call a victim advocate, you can call 911 and request an advocate.
  • Save any evidence of the violation (e.g., damaged property, photos of injuries, photos of the scene, caller ID info, taped conversations, emails, voicemails, text messages, etc.) and show the evidence to the police.  Provide the police with the names and addresses of any other witnesses to the violation.
  • Get the officer’s/deputy’s name, badge number, and report number as this will help you in following up on the report.  A police officer/deputy, detective, or victim advocate can provide you with information about what is happening with the case.  Write down the name, telephone number, time, and date of everyone you speak to and keep this information for your records.
The officer/deputy must have "probable cause" to arrest the defendant.  Probable cause is defined as “reasonable cause to believe that a crime has been committed or is currently being committed.”  Even if the officer/deputy determines that there is no probable cause to arrest the defendant, an Incident Report should be made, which documents what happened.  If the officer/deputy determines that probable cause exists to arrest the defendant but s/he has already left, the officer/deputy may apply for an "arrest warrant," which would allow the police to arrest him/her once s/he is found.  It may take several days before the arrest warrant is actually issued by a court and the arrest is made. Note: A violation of a civil protection order is usually a criminal offense.  The abuser can be arrested, found in contempt of court, or fined up to $5,000 and sentenced for up to 18 months in jail for violating the order.  In addition, if he committed a separate crime when violating the order (such as burglary, assault, etc.), s/he can be charged with that crime as well as being charged with the violation of the order.*

* See Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-106(1), 18-6-803.5; see also Form 399: Permanent Civil Protection Order 

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back to topCan I file to modify the terms or length of my order or cancel it?

Yes. To change the terms of your order, you must file with the court where you originally obtained the protection order.*  For instructions on how to file a motion to modify/dismiss a protection order, you can go to the CO Courts website.

* See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(2)(a), (3)(a)(II), (4)

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back to topCan the abuser ask the court to terminate my permanent protection order?

Possibly, yes, but whether or not the respondent will be successful depends on many factors.  The respondent can apply to the court for a modification, including but not limited to, a modification of the duration of the protection order or dismissal of a permanent protection order.*   S/he must prove at a hearing (where you can be present) that the modification is appropriate or that a dismissal is appropriate because the protection order is no longer necessary.**   However, the respondent must wait two years after the permanent order was issued or after any prior motion by the respondent to modify or dismiss the order (regardless of whether or not the judge granted the prior motion).*

In considering whether or not to modify or dismiss a protection order, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:

  1. whether or not the respondent has complied with (followed) the terms of the protection order;
  2. whether or not the respondent has met the conditions associated with the protection order, if any;
  3. whether or not the respondent has been ordered to participate in, and has completed, a domestic violence offender treatment program or sex offender treatment program, or has made significant progress in a sex offender treatment program as reported by the sex offender treatment provider;
  4. whether or not the respondent has voluntarily participated in any domestic violence offender treatment program or any sex offender treatment program;
  5. the amount of time that has passed since the protection order was issued;
  6. when the last incident of abuse or threat of harm occurred or other relevant information concerning the safety and protection of the protected person;
  7. whether or not, since the issuance of the protection order, the respondent has been convicted of or pled guilty to any misdemeanor or any felony against the protected person, other than the original offense that formed the basis for the issuance of the protection order (see "note" below);
  8. whether or not any other restraining orders, protective orders, or protection orders have been issued afterwards against the respondent in any state;
  9. the circumstances of the parties, including how close the distance is between the parties' residences, schools or work places, and whether or not the parties have minor children together; and
  10. whether or not the continued safety of the protected person depends upon the protection order remaining in place because the order has been successful in preventing further harm to the protected person.***
Note: If after the permanent protection order is issued, the respondent is convicted of any misdemeanor or any felony against you, other than the original offense that was the basis for the protection order, then the respondent can never modify or ask for dismissal of the permanent protection order.****

* Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-108(2)(b)
** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(5)
*** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(6)
**** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(3)(a)(I)

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WomensLaw.org thanks Andrea, CourtWatch Coordinator at Project Safeguard, for her helpful revisions on these pages.

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