Restraining Orders In Colorado Domestic Violence Cases
Restraining orders in Colorado domestic violence cases have the potential to severely impact the lives of both the accused defendant and their alleged victim. A no-contact order can compel a defendant to leave their home, forcing them to live elsewhere. If the defendant and victim have children, this means that the defendant will not be able to provide any help to the victim when it comes to childcare. Also, if the victim relies on the defendant to care for the children while he or she is at work, the restraining order can have a severe effect on the couple’s finances.
Finally, restraining means exactly that. Not only is the defendant prohibited from having physical contact with the victim, they are also prohibited from contacting them in any other way. This means no phone calls, no text messages, and no communication through a third party. If the defendant violates the order, they can be arrested and will face additional criminal charges. This is true even in cases where the victim desires contact with the defendant.
Mandatory Arrest for Domestic Violence and Restraining Orders
The impact of a restraining order begins with an arrest for a crime that involves domestic violence. Colorado is a mandatory arrest state when it comes to domestic violence. Under Colorado law, when a peace officer determines that there is probable cause to believe that a crime or offense involving domestic violence has been committed, the officer shall, without undue delay, arrest the person suspected of its commission. In practice, this means that if the police are called because of a domestic violence disturbance, someone is going to jail.
Because of this, it’s important to remember that domestic violence in Colorado has a very broad definition. It not only includes any “act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.” It also includes “any other crime against a person, or against property, including an animal, or any municipal ordinance violation against a person, or against property, including an animal, when used as a method of coercion, control, punishment, intimidation, or revenge directed against a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship.”
This means that an arrest will be mandatory not only when domestic violence has occurred, but also when a threat of violence against the victim, their pet, or their property has occurred. There doesn’t need to to be physical contact in order to trigger an arrest. Breaking property, texting, or calling repeatedly, or even using threatening or obscene language can be enough to land you in jail. In short, if the police find probable cause that the complained-of act occurred, there is no second chance. You will be arrested.
The purpose behind Colorado’s mandatory arrest law was to prevent domestic violence offenders from getting off with a simple warning. However, it not hard to imagine a situation where the law could be misused.
Every couple argues. Sometimes though, tempers can flare and anger gains the upper hand. When this occurs, one person may decide to gain the upper hand in the argument by calling the police and telling them that they’ve been threatened by their partner. If this happens, the consequences of a hasty decision made during an argument can negatively affect both people involved for months to come.
Once the authorities are involved, the result is inevitable. The person accused will be arrested and jailed. They will remain in jail until they are conditionally released while awaiting trial on the domestic violence charges pending against them. It is at this point that the restraining order is entered.
Under Colorado law, at the time of arraignment or the person’s first appearance before the court, the court will inform the defendant of the restraining order. The court will also inform the defendant that a violation of such order is punishable by contempt. Furthermore, the order will remain in effect until the disposition of the matter.
Under the law, the matter is considered disposed when the case is dismissed, the defendant is acquitted or completes their sentence following conviction. If the sentence is probation, the restraining order will remain in effect until the term of probation has ended. If the sentence is incarceration, the order will remain in effect until release from jail and discharge from parole. In many cases, this means that the no-contact order will continue for a year or more.
Finally, as discussed above, the order can force the defendant to vacate their home and stay away from any location that the alleged victim frequents. The order can also prevent the defendant from having any direct or indirect communication with the victim. In addition, the court has the ability to expand the scope of the order by prohibiting the defendant from:
- Possessing any firearms or weapons;
- Possessing or consuming alcohol or any controlled substances; and
- Any other provision the court feels necessary to protect the victim.
Modifying a Restraining Order
Under the law, the defendant can apply to the court for a modification or dismissal of the restraining order. To do so, the defendant must file a motion to modify or dismiss the restraining order with the court. With the motion, the defendant must also submit the results of a criminal background check, performed within the previous 90 days, that includes the records of the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. A copy of the motion must also be served on the victim.
In reviewing the motion, the court will look at several factors, including:
- Has the defendant complied with the terms of the restraining order;
- Has the defendant participated and completed any court-ordered treatment programs;
- Has the defendant voluntarily participated in any treatment programs;
- How much time has elapsed since the order was entered;
- Has the defendant plead guilty to any criminal offense involving the victim;
- Have any other restraining orders been entered against the defendant in Colorado or any other state;
- The circumstances of the parties, including how near they live to each other and whether they have children; and
- Is the victim’s safety dependent on the restraining order?
The order will then be modified or dismissed if, by a preponderance of the evidence, the judge finds that it is appropriate to do so.
The State of Colorado takes domestic violence seriously. This means that you need to take any domestic violence charges against you seriously as well. An arrest or conviction for a crime involving domestic violence will include a restraining order that can have negative repercussions that could last quite some time. Take the time to contact our office today for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your options.