"Civil Protection Order" is the legal term for what is commonly referred to as a "restraining order." Civil Protection Orders are obtained by survivors of domestic violence as a way to prevent their abusers from coming near them, contacting them, or coming near their home, office or school.

Civil Protection Orders

Who Can Get a Civil Protection Order?

You can get a Civil Protection Order to protect yourself, your children, or an at-risk adult. You (or the person you're filing on behalf of) must be a survivor of one of the following types of violence:

  • Domestic Abuse: "Domestic abuse" is generally defined as "any act, attempted act, or threatened act of violence, stalking, harassment, or coercion 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."

  • Stalking:  "Stalking" generally occurs when someone repeatedly does one or more of the following "in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress":

    • contacts you (directly or indirectly),

    • places you under surveillance,

    • follows you, or

    • approaches you.

  • Sexual Assault: "Sexual assault" occurs when an actor "knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim" without the victim's consent.

  • Unlawful Sexual Contact: "Unlawful sexual contact" occurs when an actor "knowingly subjects a victim to any sexual contact" without the victim's consent.  

  • Abuse of the Elderly or an At-Risk Adult: "Abuse of the Elderly or At-Risk Adult" occurs when one of the following happens to an at-risk adult or person over sixty:

    • verbal threats or assaults;

    • verbal harassment;

    • inappropriate use or the threat of inappropriate use of medications;

    • inappropriate use of physical or chemical restraints;

    • misuse of power or authority granted to a person through a power of attorney or by a court in a guardianship or conservatorship proceeding that results in unreasonable confinement or restriction of liberty; or

    • threats or acts of violence against, or the taking, transferring, concealing, harming, or disposing of, an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept, or held by the elderly or at-risk adult, which threats or acts are intended to coerce, control, punish, intimidate, or exact revenge upon the elderly or at-risk adult.

What Can a Judge Include in a Civil Protection Order?

First, the Restrained Person (the abuser) will be ordered to: 

  • "Not contact, harass, stalk, injure, intimidate, threaten, touch, sexually assault, abuse, or molest the Protected Persons" (the survivors)  

  • He or she will also be ordered not to "harm, take, transfer, conceal, dispose of or threaten harm to an animal owned, possessed, leased, kept or held by any protected party, or a minor child of any other party".   

  • Contact: A judge can also order the Restrained Person not to contact you at all or only through specific means. For example, if you have children with this person, a judge can order your abuser to not contact you except through text and email regarding the children.

  • Exclusion From Places: A judge can order the Restrained Person to stay away from particular places, like your work, home, or school. 

  • Temporary Custody: Sometimes a judge will address child custody issues on a temporary basis (between 14 days and 1 year) in a Civil Protection Order. However, it is usually better to address custody through a divorce or custody case. This is a particularly complicated issue to address when dealing with domestic violence. We strongly recommend speaking with an attorney if you need custody addressed.

  • Financial Matters: A Civil Protection Order also "restrains the Restrained Person from ceasing to make payments for mortgage or rent, insurance, utilities or related services, transportation, medical care, or child care when the Restrained Person has a prior existing duty or legal obligation to make such payments or from transferring, encumbering, concealing, or in any way disposing of personal effects or real property, except in the usual course of business or for the necessities of life and requires  the Restrained Person to account to the court for all extraordinary expenditures made after the injunction is entered."

  • Firearms: The Court may also order the Restrained Person to "not possess and/or purchase a firearm, ammunition, or other weapon."

  • Pets: A judge can make arrangements for the possession and control of an animal.

  • Employment: The Restrained Person may also be ordered to "not interfere with the Protected Person at the person’s place of employment or place of education and shall not engage in conduct that impairs the Protected Person’s employment, educational relationships, or environment."

  • Further Orders: In limited scenarios, a Civil Protection Order can also address other issues that arise in your case.

  

What is the process for obtaining a CPO?

  1. First you'll need to complete all the paperwork to initiate your case. All the forms and instructions on how to do this are available on the Colorado Judicial Branch's website found here

  2. Once you file the initial paperwork, you will have to go before a judge and testify about why you believe you are in "imminent danger." These hearings usually last between fifteen and thirty minutes. The judge will then either grant a Temporary Protection Order (a CPO that lasts up to 14 days) and schedule your next hearing, or deny your request.

  3. Next, you'll have to get either the Sheriff's Office or a private process server to "serve" the Restrained Person with all the court paperwork.

  4. Then, if you want the order to continue, you will return to court within two weeks for another hearing. If the other party does not agree to the order, there will be a contested hearing. This means you need to bring with you all your evidence, witnesses, and prepare your testimony. Be aware, that the Restrained Person will have the ability to cross-examine you (ask you questions on the stand) and you can do the same for them and their witnesses.

  5. After the hearing, a judge will either make the protection order permanent or dismiss the case.

What happens if my abuser violates the CPO?

Call the police right away. Civil Protection Orders often deter abusers from further domestic violence, but that is not always the case. All cases that come through our office include real world safety planning to help keep you safe in the event of a violation.

Legally, a violation of a Civil Protection Order is crime and may be prosecuted by the District Attorney in your area.

 

  

 

Be Advised: This website includes general information about legal issues and developments in the law. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and must not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You need to contact a lawyer licensed in your jurisdiction for advice on specific legal issues.