Restraining Orders – A Basic Guide

Colorado law allows for Courts to issue temporary and permanent civil restraining orders to prevent harm. Restraining orders are referred to as “protection orders” in Colorado. Restraining orders (also called “protection orders” in this article) can be issued quickly, inexpensively, and without notice to the person against whom it is issued. Once the judge signs a restraining order, it is then served on the restrained person by a sheriff, police officer, or other process server. The restraining order documents contain a court hearing date, for a hearing to determine if the restraining order should be made permanent. If the restraining order is made permanent, it cannot be modified by the restrained person for at least 4 years.

The Court can issue a temporary or permanent civil protection order against an adult or against a juvenile who is ten years of age or older for any of the following purposes:

(a) To prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm;

(b) To prevent domestic abuse;

(c) To prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult; or

(d) To prevent stalking.

“Domestic abuse” means any act or threatened act of violence that is committed by any person against another person to whom the actor is currently or was formerly related, or with whom the actor is living or has lived in the same domicile, or with whom the actor is involved or has been involved in an intimate relationship. “Domestic abuse” may also include any act or threatened act of violence against:

(a) The minor children of either of the parties (i.e. a person under eighteen years old); or

(b) An animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by either of the parties or by a minor child of either of the parties, which threat or act is intended to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or exact revenge upon either of the parties or a minor child of either of the parties.

Stalking has a broad definition under Colorado law. A person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly through another person, the person knowingly:

(a) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship; or

(b) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues; or

(c) Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress. A victim need not show that he or she received professional treatment or counseling to show that he or she suffered serious emotional distress.

Conduct “in connection with” a credible threat means acts that further, advance, promote, or have a continuity of purpose, and may occur before, during, or after the credible threat.

“Credible threat” means a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person’s safety or the safety of his or her immediate family or of someone with whom the person has or has had a continuing relationship. The threat need not be directly expressed if the totality of the conduct would cause a reasonable person such fear.

“Immediate family” includes the person’s spouse and the person’s parent, grandparent, sibling, or child.

“Repeated” or “repeatedly” means on more than one occasion.

Restraining orders can be an effective means of obtaining immediate help in dangerous situations. While calling 911 is certainly advisable when a victim feels threatened, possession of the restraining order may help save a life or prevent further harm.

 

Gregg A. Greenstein is a shareholder in the law firm of Frascona, Joiner, Goodman and Greenstein, P.C., a Colorado law firm. His practice areas include Real Estate, Litigation, Family Law, Divorce, and Adoption. Contact Gregg Greenstein.

Disclaimer -- Content is general information only. Information is not provided as advice for a specific matter, nor does its publication create an attorney-client relationship. Laws vary from one state to another. For legal advice on a specific matter, consult an attorney.

GREGG A. GREENSTEIN