A permanent protective order protects you from another individual’s threats, contact, or harassment. If an individual violates a protective order (also referred to as a “restraining order” or a “protection order”), that person can be arrested and taken to jail.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address the following faqs:
- 1. What is a permanent protective order in Colorado?
- 2. How do I apply for a protection order in Colorado?
- 3. Do I have to pay to apply for a protective order?
- 4. How long does a restraining order last in Colorado?
- 5. What happens if someone violates a protective order?
- 6. How do I lift or remove a permanent restraining order in Colorado?
- 7. Does a restraining order give someone a criminal record in Colorado?
- 8. Does a domestic violence arrest trigger a restraining order?
- Additional resources
1. What is a permanent protective order in Colorado?
A protective order is a court order that protects you from someone’s threats or other actions. Also known as a restraining order, a protective order can limit someone from having any contact with you or your family. Violating a civil protection order in Colorado can result in an arrest and jail time.
A protection order in Colorado prohibits the restrained person from certain actions against you (“the protected party”). This is often used to protect you from:
- Domestic Violence
- Colorado Stalking (Vonnie’s Law)
Protective orders can be temporary or permanent. In an emergency situation, you can go to the police to ask for an emergency protection order when the courts are not open. A temporary protective order can be issued to protect you for a short period. A permanent protective order may last forever (permanent) unless it is modified or terminated.
A temporary protective order, also known as a temporary restraining order (TRO), can be obtained without the involvement of the alleged abuser. This involves filing a motion in court. If the court grants the motion, the court will issue a TRO to protect you until a court hearing is set for a permanent protective order.1
For a permanent protective order, also known as a permanent restraining order (PRO), the other person (“restrained party”) will have the chance to respond to the motion.2 This requires properly serving the other person with notice of the hearing. However, if the accused does not show up to the PRO hearing, the court will generally grant the permanent order.
A protective order can prohibit any contact between the restrained person and you (or your children). This includes:
- Contacting (including through a third party)
- Threatening or harming
- Sexual assault
- Interfering with your school or place of work
- Entering or remaining on premises of the family home
- Coming within a specified distance of you or premises
- Taking, harming, or threatening harm to an animal/pet.3
Colorado law has been updated to include digital contact as prohibited contact under a permanent protective order. Contact includes:
“Any interaction or communication with another person, directly or indirectly through a third party, and electronic and digital forms of communication, including but not limited to interaction or communication through social media.”4
This protects you from most types of contact, including social media platforms. Digital contact that may be prohibited includes:
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Instant messages
Financial support and child custody
Depending on the case, restraining orders can also award you up to a year of care and control of your children. The court can also award you temporary injunctive relief by ordering the restrained party to keep paying for household expenses, including child care.5
2. How do I apply for a protection order in Colorado?
The first step to getting a permanent protective order in Colorado usually begins with a temporary protective order.
Apply for a Temporary Protection Order
File for a temporary protective order with the local municipal court. A temporary protective order can be issued against any adult or juvenile aged 10 or older for the following:
- To prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm;
- To prevent domestic abuse;
- To prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult;
- To prevent sexual assault or abuse; and
- To prevent stalking.
You can use form JDF 402 – Verified Complaint/Motion to obtain a protection order. You will need to include the following information:
- Why the order is necessary;
- Where you live and work;
- Information regarding any children you have in common (use JDF 404 Affidavit Regarding Children);
- An incident checklist where you list the abuser’s threats and instances of physical abuse and property damage; and
- Whether there are any other active protective orders.
You can file for a protective order even if the restricted person has never been charged with a crime or arrested.6
The court will set a hearing for a temporary restraining order as soon as possible, usually that same day. The restrained person does not need to be present for a temporary protection order hearing (called an “ex parte” hearing).7
The judge will review the protective order petition to determine if there is an imminent danger to you. This includes any danger to the life or health of one or more persons, considering all relevant evidence. If the judge finds that an imminent danger exists to one or more persons, the court shall issue a temporary civil protection order to take immediate effect. The court will also schedule another hearing within 14 days.
A copy of the complaint, TRO, and notice of the new hearing must be served on the subject. This can be done through the sheriff, using a private process server, or anyone who
- is at least 18 years old,
- not party to the case, and
- understands the rules for proper service.
The process server needs to provide proof of service to the court or provide a copy of the return of service form.
You should remember to carry a copy of the temporary protective order and affidavit/certificate of service at all times. This may be required by law enforcement if the individual violates the temporary restraining order.
Note that if you and restrained party live together, the restrained party can only go to the shared residence accompanied by a police officer to retrieve personal effects.8
Apply for a Permanent Protection Order
In most cases, a hearing for a permanent protective order will be scheduled when the court grants a temporary protective order. In order to determine whether the order should be granted, the court will review the court record and evidence. The judge can also continue a temporary protection order and delay the hearing for up to one year.
If the judge finds that more likely than not, the respondent (“restrained person”) has committed acts that justify issuing a protective order and unless restrained will continue such acts, the judge shall order the temporary protection order to be made permanent.
Before the court can grant a permanent protective order, the respondent has to be properly served with a notice of the hearing. The hearing is where the respondent will have a chance to respond to the claims made in the complaint. If the respondent does not appear for the hearing and the court finds that they were properly served, the court can issue a permanent protection order (and can issue a bench warrant for the person’s arrest as well).
Note that the judge can also postpone a permanent order hearing by up to 14 days for good cause shown by one of the parties. A typical ground for good cause is time needed to gather evidence, find witnesses, and hire an attorney.9
Also note that if you do not appear at a permanent protection order hearing, the court will dismiss the protection order without prejudice (meaning that you can reapply later).
Colorado gives full faith and credit to protection orders issued in other states as long as the restrained party was given notice and the opportunity to be heard. Plus you may – but do not have to – register out-of-state orders with a Colorado court.
Colorado courts also have jurisdiction to impose restraining orders on non-Colorado residents if you (the victim) are a Colorado resident.10
When children are involved
If you and the restrained party have children in common, the court – during the first hearing following the TPO – will determine if and how the restrained party can resume contact with the children.
If the kids were victims or witnessed abuse, the court may consider allowing supervised parenting through CASA. The court will also decide which party will pay for this.
No contact orders
Sometimes parties to a divorce who do not need a protection order instead request that the court issue a no-contact order. It still prohibits the parties from contacting each other, but – unlike with a protection order – police cannot be called upon if one of the parties violates the order. Instead, the court could hold a contempt hearing later on.
3. Do I have to pay a fee to get a protective order?
The filing fee for a civil protection order is $85.00. Though you may not have to pay a filing fee for a protective order in Colorado if you are seeking protection related to:
- Domestic violence
- Sexual assault
- Domestic abuse
- Unlawful sexual contact12
You may also petition the court to waive the fee for a protective order by filing a “Motion to File Without Payment of Filing Fee.”11
4. How long does a restraining order last in Colorado?
A temporary protective order generally lasts for up to 14 days, until the court holds a hearing on making the protective order permanent. However, a temporary protection order can be continued for up to one year, upon a finding of good cause by the judge.
A permanent restraining order can be permanent, just like the name says. A permanent protective order will remain in effect until it is modified or dismissed. A restraining order can be dismissed or modified by you or the restrained person.
You can modify the restraining order at any time. However, the restrained person has to wait for at least two (2) years after the restraining order was issued before they can try to modify or dismiss the protective order.
Note that any provisions in the order regarding children expire after:
- one year, or
- a district court’s entry of parenting orders,
whichever occurs earlier.
Note that if the judge presiding over a divorce case issues a protection order in that case, it will expire when the parties are officially divorced unless the judge finds good cause to postpone the expiration date.13
5. What happens if someone violates a protective order?
If the restrained person does anything prohibited by the protective order, you should call the police. If the police or law enforcement has probable cause to believe the restrained person has violated the order, that person will be arrested and taken to jail.
In Colorado, violating a protective order is a misdemeanor and the penalties can include:
- up to 364 days in jail, and/or
- a fine of up to $1,000.
A person violates a protection order if they have been served with a protection order, and the person does any of the following to you:
Most restraining orders include a provision requiring the restrained party to surrender their firearms and ammunition. If the restrained party is still in custody, courts may condition their release on them surrendering their guns first.
Otherwise, restrained parties have to give up their guns within 24 hours after being served in open court or within 48 hours after being served outside of court. If the restrained party can show the court that they need more time to comply, the court can give them 72 hours to give up their guns and 96 hours to give up their ammo.
Guns and ammo can be surrendered in one of the following ways:
- selling to a licensed gun dealer;
- selling to a private party;
- storing with a police department
The restrained party then has to file a written proof of receipt with the court within three days.
Buying, possessing, or attempting to possess a firearm while the restraining order is active is a misdemeanor, carrying up to 364 days in jail, and/or a fine of up to $1,000.15
6. How do I lift or remove a permanent restraining order in Colorado?
A permanent restraining order can be dismissed or modified by you (the protected person) or the subject of the order. You can modify the restraining order at any time after the order is entered. However, the restrained person has to wait for at least two years before they can file a motion to remove the protective order.16
The restrained person is also responsible for supplying fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI to pay for the cost of a criminal history record check. If the Colorado court does not have the results of a criminal history check, the court will not consider a motion to modify a protection order.17
If the subject of the protection order has been convicted of any misdemeanor or felony against the protected person, other than the original offense that was the basis for the order, then the protection order will remain permanent.18
If you are the subject of a restraining order, you should contact your attorney if you want to lift or remove a permanent restraining order in Colorado.
7. Does a restraining order give someone a criminal record in Colorado?
Having a protection order taken out against you is not a crime. Though it can show up in background checks, which may lead potential employers or landlords to assume you did something wrong.
8. Does a domestic violence arrest trigger a restraining order?
Yes. If a person gets arrested for a domestic violence-related offense in Colorado, the judge will issue a criminal protection order. This mandatory protection order remains in effect until the resolution of the criminal case.19
For immediate help, victims of domestic violence can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or text START to 88788. Also refer to the following:
- Colorado Judiciary’s Instructions For Obtaining A Civil Protection Order – Official state court instructions with links to forms.
- Violence Free Colorado – Resources for domestic violence victims.
- The Initiative Colorado – An organization providing advocacy for abuse victims with disabilities.
- Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) – State government program providing services for and information to crime victims.
- Domestic Violence Program (DVP) – This Colorado Department of Health and Human Services program partners with communities to protect domestic violence survivors and prevent domestic violence from happening.
- C.R.S. 13-14-104.5 (“(1)(a) Any municipal court of record, if authorized by the municipal governing body; any county court; and any district, probate, or juvenile court shall have original concurrent jurisdiction to 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: (I) To prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm; (II) To prevent domestic abuse; (III) To prevent emotional abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult; (IV) To prevent sexual assault or abuse; and (V) To prevent stalking.”). See also C.R.S. 13-14-100.2 (restraining orders are meant to “promote safety, reduce violence and other types of abuse, and prevent serious harm and death.”).
- C.R.S. 13-14-105 (1) (“A municipal court of record that is authorized by its municipal governing body to issue protection or restraining orders and any county court.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-101(2.4) (“(a)“Protection order” means any order that prohibits the restrained person from contacting, harassing, injuring, intimidating, molesting, threatening, touching, stalking, or sexually assaulting or abusing any protected person or from entering or remaining on premises, or from coming within a specified distance of a protected person or premises, or from taking, transferring, concealing, harming, disposing of or threatening harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by a protected person, or any other provision to protect the protected person from imminent danger to life or health that is issued by a court of this state or a municipal court.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-101(1.7) (“Contact” or “contacting” means any interaction or communication with another person, directly or indirectly through a third party, and electronic and digital forms of communication, including but not limited to interaction or communication through social media.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-105.
- C.R.S. 13-14-104.5, see footnote 1 above. C.R.S. 13-14-104.5(1)(b) (“To be eligible for a protection order, the petitioner does not need to show that he or she has reported the act that is the subject of the complaint to law enforcement, that charges have been filed, or that the petitioner is participating in the prosecution of a criminal matter.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-104.5(4) (”A motion for a temporary civil protection order shall be set for hearing at the earliest possible time, which hearing may be ex parte.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-104.5(7)(a) (”A temporary civil protection order may be issued if the issuing judge or magistrate finds that an imminent danger exists to the person or persons seeking protection under the civil protection order. In determining whether an imminent danger exists to the life or health of one or more persons, the court shall consider all relevant evidence concerning the safety and protection of the persons seeking the protection order. The court shall not deny a petitioner the relief requested because of the length of time between an act of abuse or threat of harm and the filing of the petition for a protection order.”). People v. Garcia (2021) 479 P.3d 905.
- C.R.S. 13-14-104.5(9) (“A copy of the complaint, a copy of the temporary civil protection order, and a copy of the citation must be served upon the respondent and upon the person to be protected, if the complaint was filed by another person, in accordance with the rules for service of process as provided in rule 304 of the rules of county court civil procedure or rule 4 of the Colorado rules of civil procedure. The citation must inform the respondent that, if the respondent fails to appear in court in accordance with the terms of the citation, a bench warrant may be issued for the arrest of the respondent, and the temporary protection order previously entered by the court made permanent without further notice or service upon the respondent.”). C.R.S. 13-14-106 (“(1)(a) On the return date of the citation, or on the day to which the hearing has been continued, the judge or magistrate shall examine the record and the evidence. If upon such examination the judge or magistrate finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the respondent has committed acts constituting grounds for issuance of a civil protection order and that unless restrained will continue to commit such acts or acts designed to intimidate or retaliate against the protected person, the judge or magistrate shall order the temporary civil protection order to be made permanent or enter a permanent civil protection order with provisions different from the temporary civil protection order.”). C.R.S. 14-10-106. C.R.S. 13-13-106.
- Parocha v. Parocha (2018) 418 P.3d 523 (“We hold that an out-of-state party’s harassment of, threatening of, or attempt to coerce an individual known by the non-resident to be located in Colorado is a tortious act sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction under our long-arm statute. We also hold that such conduct creates a sufficient nexus between the out-of-state party and this state to satisfy the requisite minimum contacts such that the exercise of jurisdiction to enter a protection order comports with traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.“). C.R.S. 13-14-110.
- C.R.S. 13-32-101(1)(c)(III)(A)
- C.R.S. 13-14-109 (“(1) The court may assess a filing fee against a petitioner seeking relief under this article; except that the court may not assess a filing fee against a petitioner if the court determines the petitioner is seeking the protection order as a victim of domestic abuse, domestic violence as defined in section 18-6-800.3 (1), C.R.S., stalking, or sexual assault or abuse.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-108 (“(2)(b) The restrained party may apply to the court for modification, including but not limited to a modification of the duration of the protection order or dismissal of a permanent protection order pursuant to this section. However, if a permanent protection order has been issued or if a motion for modification or dismissal of a permanent protection order has been filed by the restrained party, whether or not it was granted, no motion to modify or dismiss may be filed by the restrained party within two years after issuance of the permanent order or after disposition of the prior motion.”).
- C.R.S. 18-6-803.5 (“(1) A person commits the crime of violation of a protection order if, after the person has been personally served with a protection order that identifies the person as a restrained person or otherwise has acquired from the court or law enforcement personnel actual knowledge of the contents of a protection order that identifies the person as a restrained person, the person: (a) Contacts, harasses, injures, intimidates, molests, threatens, or touches the protected person or protected property, including an animal, identified in the protection order or enters or remains on premises or comes within a specified distance of the protected person, protected property, including an animal, or premises or violates any other provision of the protection order to protect the protected person from imminent danger to life or health, and such conduct is prohibited by the protection order.”)
- C.R.S. 18-6-803.5(1) (“(c) Violates a civil protection order issued pursuant to section 13-14-105.5, C.R.S ., or pursuant to section 18-1-1001(9) by: (I) Possessing or attempting to purchase or receive a firearm or ammunition while the protection order is in effect; or (II) Failing to timely file a receipt or written statement with the court as described in section 13-14-105.5(9), C.R.S ., or in section 18-1-1001(9)(i) or 18-6-801(8)(i) .”). Prior to March 1, 2022, class 1 misdemeanors carried 6 to 18 months in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 in fines. SB21-271. Lautenberg Amendment/18 U.S.Code § 922 (g)(8)(firearm possession is prohibited for people who are “subject to a court order that— (A) was issued after a hearing of which such person received actual notice, and at which such person had an opportunity to participate; (B) restrains such person from harassing, stalking, or threatening an intimate partner of such person or child of such intimate partner or person, or engaging in other conduct that would place an intimate partner in reasonable fear of bodily injury to the partner or child; and (C)(i) includes a finding that such person represents a credible threat to the physical safety of such intimate partner or child; or (ii) by its terms explicitly prohibits the use, attempted use, or threatened use of physical force against such intimate partner or child that would reasonably be expected to cause bodily injury”).” C.R.S. 13-14-105.5. C.R.S. 14-13-105.5(9)(a).
- C.R.S. 13-14-108, see footnote 13 above.
- C.R.S. 13-14-108 (“(3)(a)(I) Notwithstanding any provision of subsection (2) of this section to the contrary, after issuance of the permanent protection order, if the restrained party has been convicted of or pled guilty to any misdemeanor or any felony against the protected person, other than the original offense, if any, that formed the basis for the issuance of the protection order, then the protection order remains permanent and must not be modified or dismissed by the court.”)
- C.R.S. 13-14-108 (“(3)(b) A court shall not consider a motion to modify a protection order filed by a restrained party pursuant to paragraph (a) of this subsection (3) unless the court receives the results of a fingerprint-based criminal history record check of the restrained party that is conducted within ninety days prior to the filing of the motion. The fingerprint-based criminal history record check must include a review of the state and federal criminal history records maintained by the Colorado bureau of investigation and federal bureau of investigation. The restrained party shall be responsible for supplying fingerprints to the Colorado bureau of investigation and to the federal bureau of investigation and paying the costs of the record checks. The restrained party may be required by the court to provide certified copies of any criminal dispositions that are not reflected in the state or federal records and any other dispositions that are unknown.”
- C.R.S. 18-1-1001.