Thursday, February 17, 2011

Protection Orders

A common legal concept that crops up in divorce and criminal cases is protection orders. A protection order is a Court order to prevent the restrained person from doing certain things, such as contacting, injuring, harassing, or threatening the protected person or entering the protected party's premises. See C.R.S. 13-14-101(2.4)(a). The protection order is issued by the court, and although some may perceive it as a piece of paper that is easily ignored, the weight and authority behind the protection order is real and has significant legal consequences if violated.

There are two types of protection orders: civil protection orders and criminal protection orders. A civil protection issue may be issued for the following reasons: (1) to prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm, (2) to prevent domestic abuse, (3) to prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult, and (4) to prevent stalking. C.R.S. 13-14-102. If a person feels threatened by the actions or behavior of another, a protection order is one method of protecting one's self and notifying the restrained person that this behavior must stop.

The civil protection order begins with the filing of a Motion for a Temporary Civil Protection Order, and if the Court finds that an imminent danger exists toward the person seeking protection, the Court will issue a Temporary Civil Protection Order. Along with this Temporary Civil Protection Order the Court will issue a citation for the respondent to appear before the Court to show cause as to why the protection order should not be made permanent.

In the criminal realm, a mandatory protection order is issued in every criminal case against any person accused of committing a crime. See C.R.S. 18-1-1001. The protection order is usually issued at the accused's first appearance before the Judge. The general criminal protection order prohibits the restrained party from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness or alleged victim of the acts charged. In addition to these orders, the Court can prohibit the defendant from having contact with the alleged victim or others, or prohibit the defendant from entering the premises or home.

The existence of a protection order has real-life implications. For example, the protection order may prevent a father or mother from seeing their children, or a homeowner from going back to a residence. It may include prohibitions against consuming alcohol. If violated, the person faces criminal charges or being held in contempt, both of which involve the possibility of jail or a sentence to probation. Sometimes, when a person is charged with a protection order violation and a separate criminal offense, the district attorney may use the protection order as leverage for a plea bargain. The protection order can also be used as leverage in family law matters like divorce and child custody.

Whether you are using the protection order as a sword or trying to protect yourself from its grasp, numerous legal questions arise and steps should be taken to make sure the protection order is appropriate or not.

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