A restraining order is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. If you have been served with a restraining order, it could affect your freedom to travel, to own a gun, to see your children, and may have a wider effect on your job and your livelihood.
If you have been charged with violating a restraining order, even if the original allegation was based on falsehoods or exaggerations, you should seek immediate legal counsel to protect yourself from further criminal penalties.
If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, you need an experienced Colorado Springs defense attorney on your side. My name is Christian Schwaner, and I am ready to help you. As a Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer and a former prosecutor, I have experience with restraining order violation cases, and have seen them from both sides of the law. I understand how the process works, and I will use that insight to build a strong case and increase your chances of avoiding a conviction or the steepest of penalties.
What is a Restraining Order?
A restraining order is an order issued by a court that requires one person to stay away from and cease contact with another. These are common in cases in which someone has been accused of domestic violence. Although most people commonly refer to these as ‘restraining orders,’ the technical term that applies to all types of restraining orders under Colorado law is ‘protective order.’ These terms are virtually interchangeable. Protective orders can be either temporary or permanent, and the duration will be specified in the order.
A temporary restraining order (TRO) can be granted without the defendant ever appearing in court. A judge will grant this order if they think the person requesting it is in imminent danger and needs protection until both parties can appear for an actual hearing, usually around 14 days later.
To be bound by a TRO, the defendant must be legally served with the order. After a hearing, the judge might issue a permanent restraining order (PRO), which can have the same or different terms, but has no expiration date. They might also choose to extend the TRO by up to 120 days without making it permanent.
If the people the dispute is between have children, any restraining order might be extended to those children as well.
How is a Restraining Order Violated?
Typically, the text of the restraining order itself spells out the terms. The order might prohibit you from contacting a person and from approaching within a certain distance of them. The terms of the order go into effect as soon as you are served. Whether or not there seems to be any ambiguity in the terms, there are certain acts that are prohibited by virtually any protective order:
- Calling or texting the person
- Contacting the person through social media
- Sending a letter or note to the person, even if it is an apology
- Going to the person’s home, even if you have previously lived there
- Showing up at the person’s workplace
- Following or stalking the person
- Approaching the person in public
- If children are involved in the order, showing up at their school
These and any other kind of contact would constitute a violation of a restraining order, whether temporary or permanent. If you have been served with a restraining order, it is imperative to avoid any contact with the person whatsoever, even if you are confident that their claims against you are unfounded and that you can have the order dismissed. In fact, you should observe all of your actions to make sure that absolutely nothing you do could be construed as attempting to contact the person who took out the order against you, even if that person is your spouse.
Penalties for Violating Restraining Orders
If you are accused of violating a restraining order, you might face serious consequences, including fines and possible jail time. It doesn’t matter if the order is temporary or permanent; if you have been served, you can be punished for violating the order. Here are the penalties under Colorado law for violating a protective order:
- For a first offense, violating a protective order is a class 2 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 3 to 12 months in jail, a $250 to $1,000 fine, or both.
- For a second or subsequent offense, violating a protective order is a class 1 misdemeanor, which carries a penalty of 6 to 18 months in jail, a $500 to $5,000 fine, or both.
- Any violation of a protective order will cause the defendant to be held in contempt of court, which may result in fines or jail time.
Even a penalty for a first offense has the potential to completely disrupt your life, keeping you from work and away from your friends and family, and setting you back financially. If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, it is important to seek assistance from an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible to protect yourself from these serious consequences.
Dealing with a restraining order and accusations of violating it can be extremely challenging and stressful. If you have been charged with violating a restraining order, chances are that you are involved in a more substantial domestic dispute. No matter what you’ve been accused of, an experienced criminal defense lawyer will work hard to protect your freedom and stand up for you during this difficult time in your life.
If you have been accused of violating a restraining order, I can give you the help you need. I have years over 20 years of experience as both a criminal defense attorney and a prosecutor, giving me a unique perspective on how the process works in Colorado from both sides. Don’t wait: you can contact my office at any time to set up a free consultation. I’ll be there to discuss your case, even if you’re being held in jail at this moment. As soon as I take your case, I will start building a strong, persuasive defense on your behalf to help minimize the impact of these charges.
For help from an experienced Colorado Springs restraining order violation defense attorney, call Christian Schwaner today at (719) 577-9700.