What Happens When a Protection Order is Violated?

June 8, 2024

In Colorado, protection orders are legal safeguards established to shield victims from further abuse after domestic violence incidents. These orders outline specific actions the respondent (the abuser) is prohibited from taking, often including:

  • Having any contact with the petitioner (the victim) – in person, by phone, text message, or social media;
  • Coming within a certain distance of the petitioner's home, workplace, or frequented locations; and
  • Possessing firearms.

What Happens When a Protection Order is Violated? Police officer handcuffing a man.

If you have a protection order against someone and believe they've violated it, here's what you need to do:

  • Contact Law Enforcement Immediately: Do not attempt to confront the respondent yourself. Confronting the respondent can escalate the situation and put you in danger. Instead, report the violation to the police, providing as much detail as possible about the incident, including dates, times, and specific actions that violated the order.
  • Police Action: Colorado law mandates that police officers arrest the respondent if there is probable cause to believe a protection order has been violated. This crucial step ensures your immediate safety and prevents further infractions. The police will assess the situation, gather evidence, and determine whether an arrest is warranted based on the probable cause standard.
  • Criminal Charges: Violating a protection order is a criminal offense in Colorado. The circumstances of the violation will determine the severity of the charges and penalties. A first offense is usually a misdemeanor, which is punishable by jail time and fines. However, repeat offenses or violations involving firearms can escalate to felonies with harsher penalties.

The Burden of Proof

In cases of protection order violations, the burden of proof resides with the petitioner and the prosecution. You must provide evidence to support your claim that the respondent violated the order. Essential pieces of evidence may include:

  • Witness statements: Witness testimonies are powerful pieces of evidence. These statements come from individuals who directly observed the violation. Whether it's a neighbor who saw the respondent near your home or a colleague who witnessed an inappropriate interaction at your workplace, their accounts can corroborate your claims and provide an objective perspective on the incident.
  • Communication records: Another critical form of evidence includes communication records. This encompasses emails, text messages, social media interactions, and voicemails from the respondent. Any attempt by the respondent to contact you violating the order should be documented and presented. Screenshots, saved messages, and recorded voicemails prove the respondent’s disregard for the protection order.
  • Physical evidence: Tangible items that can corroborate your claim are also valuable. This might include objects the respondent left at your property, photographs of damages or disturbances, or any other physical signs that indicate a breach of the order. Proper documentation and preservation of this evidence can strengthen your case significantly.

By gathering and presenting this evidence effectively, you help the prosecution build a robust case against the respondent. Our experienced attorneys from Johnson Law Group can guide you through this process, ensuring that your evidence is comprehensive and compelling, ultimately helping to secure your safety and uphold the protection order.

When to Contact a Colorado Protection Order Attorney

Navigating the complexities of protection orders can be challenging, especially when violations occur. Here are critical situations when contacting a Colorado protection order attorney is essential:

  • Uncertainty About Violations: If you are unsure whether a specific action violates your protection order, consulting an attorney can provide clarity. Protection orders have detailed stipulations, and interpreting these correctly is crucial for your safety. An attorney can review the actions in question and advise you on whether they breach the order’s terms.
  • Enforcement and Safety Concerns: Enforcing a protection order is vital to ensure your safety. Suppose you are experiencing difficulties getting the order respected, or serious charges come into play. In that case, an attorney can assist in taking the necessary legal steps. They can help you report violations, gather evidence, and communicate with law enforcement to enforce the order effectively.
  • Disputes Over Order Terms: Disagreements over interpreting or enforcing protection order terms can complicate your situation. A knowledgeable attorney can provide clarity and legal support if the respondent is challenging the restrictions or is confused about what actions constitute a violation. They can represent you in court, argue for the strict enforcement of the order, and help resolve any disputes that arise.

Johnson Law Group: Your Trusted Family Law Attorneys

At Johnson Law Group, we understand the emotional distress associated with protection order violations. Our priority is protecting your safety and enforcing your legal rights. If you need help with a protection order, call us today at 720-445-4444 to schedule a FREE consultation to discuss your situation and explore your legal options.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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