Can the abuser have a gun?
Once you get a protection order, there may be laws that prohibit the respondent from having a gun in his/her possession. There are a few places where you can find this information:
- first, read the questions on this page to see if judges in Colorado have to power to remove guns as part of a temporary or final order;
- second, go to our State Gun Laws section to read about your state’s specific gun-related laws; and
- third you can read our Federal Gun Laws section to understand the federal laws that apply to all states.
You can read more about keeping an abuser from accessing guns on the National Domestic Violence and Firearms Resource Center’s website.
What 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 Advocates and Shelters 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.
Can 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.1
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 Advocates and Shelters 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.
1 18 U.S.C. § 2265(d)(2)
What can I do if the abuser violates the protection order?
Violation of a protection order can be a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to three months imprisonment, a fine of up to $750, or both. It can be a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a punishment of up to 12 months imprisonment, a fine of up to $1,000, or both if any of the following are true:
- the abuser was previously convicted of violating a protection order;
- the protection order was issued as part of a criminal case and meets the requirements in section 18-1-1001 of the law;
- the basis for issuing the protection order included an allegation of stalking; or
- the parties were in an intimate relationship.1
In addition, if s/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.
There are generally two ways to deal with a violation. You could file a motion for contempt in which you are telling the court that issued the order that the respondent has violated it and you are asking the court to find that the abuser in contempt of court and to punish him/her accordingly.
The other option is to contact law enforcement to report the violation by calling 911 or contacting your local law enforcement office. 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.
- 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.
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 the abuser has already left the scene, 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.
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-6-803.5(2)(a); 18-1.3-501(1)(a.5)
Can 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.1 For instructions on how to file a motion to modify/dismiss a protection order, you can go to the CO Courts website.
1 See Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(2)(a), (3)(a)(II), (4)
Can 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.1 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.2 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).1
In considering whether or not to modify or dismiss a protection order, the judge will consider all relevant factors, including but not limited to:
- whether or not the respondent has complied with (followed) the terms of the protection order;
- whether or not the respondent has met the conditions associated with the protection order, if any;
- 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;
- whether or not the respondent has voluntarily participated in any domestic violence offender treatment program or any sex offender treatment program;
- the amount of time that has passed since the protection order was issued;
- when the last incident of abuse or threat of harm occurred or other relevant information concerning the safety and protection of the protected person;
- 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);
- whether or not any other restraining orders, protective orders, or protection orders have been issued afterwards against the respondent in any state;
- 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
- 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.3
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.4
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(2)(b)
2 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(5)
3 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(6)
4 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-108(3)(a)(I)