If I don’t have a hard copy of my out-of-state order, how can law enforcement enforce it?
To enforce an out-of-state order, law enforcement typically may rely on the National Crime Information Center Protection Order File (NCIC-POF). The NCIC-POF is a nationwide, electronic database that contains information about orders of protection that were issued in each state and territory in the U.S. The Protection Order File (POF) contains court orders that are issued to prevent acts of domestic violence, or to prevent someone from stalking, intimidating, or harassing another person. It contains orders issued by both civil and criminal state courts. The types of protection orders issued and the information contained in them vary from state to state.1
There is no way for the general public to access the NCIC-POF. That means you cannot confirm a protection order is in the registry or add a protection order to the registry without the help of a government agency that has access to it.
Typically, the state police or criminal justice agency in the state has the responsibility of reporting protection orders to NCIC. However, in some cases, the courts have taken on that role and they manage the protection order reporting process.2 NCIC–POF is used by law enforcement agencies when they need to verify and enforce an out-of-state protection order. It is managed by the FBI and state law enforcement officials.
However, not all states routinely enter protection orders into the NCIC. Instead, some states may enter the orders only in their own state protection order registry, which would not be accessible to law enforcement in other states. According to a 2016 report by the National Center for State Courts, more than 700,000 protection orders that were registered in state protection order databases were not registered in the federal NCIC Protection Order File.2 This means that if a law enforcement officer is trying to enforce a protection order from another state that is missing from the NCIC, the victim would likely need to show the officer a hard copy of the order to get it immediately enforced. If you no longer have a copy of your original order, you may want to contact the court that issued the order to ask them how you can get another copy sent to you.
1National Center for Protection Orders and Full Faith & Credit
2 See State Progress in Record Reporting for Firearm-Related Background Checks: Protection Order Submissions, prepared by the National Center for State Courts, April 2016
Do I have to register my protection order in Colorado to get it enforced?
You are not required to register your order to get it enforced. Colorado state law gives full protection to an out-of-state protection order as long as you or someone else can show the police officer a copy of your protection order and you can truthfully tell him or her that the order is still good.1
A peace officer can enforce an out-of-state protection order that appears to be an authentic court order that has been provided to the peace officer by you or by any other source. If you do not have a copy of your protection order, the officer can still enforce your order as long as s/he can verify it through the central protection order registry in Colorado, the National Crime Information Center Registry (NCIC), or through communication with appropriate authorities.1 You can read more about the NCIC under the question What is the National Crime Information Registry (NCIC)? Who has access to it?
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-110(4)
Will the abuser be notified if I register my protection order?
Some courts in Colorado will notify the abuser if you register your Protection Order. If you fear that your abuser may try to locate you in Colorado, you may wish to consult a local domestic violence advocate to find out whether your county court will notify your abuser.
You can find contact information for local domestic violence organizations in CO on our CO Advocates and Shelters page.
What if I don't register my protection order? Will it be more difficult to have it enforced?
While neither federal law nor state law requires that you register your protection order in order to get it enforced, if your order is not registered, it may be more difficult for a Colorado law enforcement official to determine whether your order is real. Meaning, it could take longer to get your order enforced.
If you are unsure about whether registering your order is the right decision for you, you may want to contact a local domestic violence organization in your area. An advocate there can help you decide what the safest plan of action is for you in Colorado. To see a list of local domestic violence organizations in Colorado, go to our CO Advocates and Shelters page.
Does it cost anything to register my protection order?
There is no fee for registering your out-of-state protection order in Colorado.1
1 Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-14-110(3)