Colorado Domestic Violence Laws
Domestic Violence Attorneys in Denver, CO
Domestic violence happens to people in all classes, statuses, and ranks in life, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, education, profession, or socioeconomic status.
The sad reality is that one in four women in the U.S. will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, resulting in an estimated 1.3 million women becoming victims of physical assault by an intimate partner each year. Unfortunately, situations like these occur in our state, as well, and so it is important that if you find yourself in that situation that you contact an attorney experienced with Colorado domestic violence laws.
Most domestic violence incidences occur between people that have an ongoing familial or intimate relationship. Most cases of domestic violence have never been reported to police and occur behind closed doors, out of the public eye. Probably the most important statistical predictive indicator of domestic violence is exposure to domestic violence as a child. An estimated 3.3 million children witness violence against their mother or female caretaker by a family member each year. Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they become adults.
Temporary Restraining Orders
Protective orders, commonly referred to as restraining orders, impose legal consequences upon alleged abusers if they contact their victim. Civil protection orders in Colorado seek to protect the person pursuing the order from threats or abuse, including domestic violence. A restraining order prohibits an alleged abuser from contacting, harassing, stalking, threatening, or intimidating a victim. There are several types of protective and restraining orders in the state of Colorado aimed at protecting victims of domestic abuse and violence.
A temporary restraining order does not require definitive evidence of domestic violence. Temporary restraining orders are designed to protect victims of domestic violence until they can get a hearing in front of a judge to make their case as to why the temporary order should become a permanent order. The process of obtaining a temporary restraining order involves filing out and filing a Verified Complaint listing relevant information such as:
- Reason(s) for seeking the restraining order;
- Where the protected persons reside and work;
- An affidavit regarding children, if the parties have minor children;
- The most recent incident that occurred resulting in the request for a restraining order;
- The most serious incident that cause the request for the protective order;
- Any past incidents of violence and/or threats; and
- Whether there are any other protective orders in place regarding the same parties.
Once a party files a Verified Complaint, the party seeking protection must then appear, usually the same day, in court. The party seeking protection must present the facts and allegations of their case to a judge who will decide whether to grant a temporary protection order, which will restrain the alleged offender from contacting the party seeking protection. This hearing is generally held ex parte, meaning the party against whom the protection order is being sought is not present. A magistrate or judge will likely ask a few, limited questions about whether the protected party is in immediate fear for their safety. When a magistrate or judge finds an immediate danger exists and a temporary restraining order is needed to: prevent assaults, threatened bodily harm, domestic abuse, emotion abuse of the elderly or of an at-risk adult, sexual assault or abuse and/or stalking, then a temporary restraining order will be entered.
Once a court enters a temporary restraining order, it will then immediately set another hearing date for the parties to appear in court to present their evidence. At this second hearing the court will decide if there is sufficient evidence to make the temporary order permanent. A temporary restraining order is not enforceable until the protected party has the accused abuser (restrained party) personally served with the order.
Permanent Restraining Order
Whenever a judge or magistrate issues a temporary restraining order, under Colorado domestic violence laws, they also schedule a permanent restraining order hearing. These hearings typically occur within 14 days of a temporary restraining order being issued and are meant to provide the accused perpetrator of domestic violence an opportunity to argue against having the restraining order made permanent.
At the permanent restraining order hearing the party seeking to have a restraining order imposed has the burden of proof which mean they must show by a preponderance of the evidence (more likely than not) that they are in imminent danger of further abuse or threats by the accused if the protection order is not made permanent. Therefore, it is important that the protected person is prepared for this hearing with exhibits and any possible witnesses.
If a judge or magistrate determines sufficient evidence exists, a permanent restraining order will be issued restraining the offending party from engaging in the offensive conduct. If sufficient evidence does not exist, the temporary restraining order will be allowed to expire or dismissed, and no permanent restraining order will be issued.
Where a restraining order is made permanent, the restrained party may not seek a modification of the protection order for two years. However, the individual that requested the protection order (the protected party) may seek a modification or dismissal at any time.
Due to the inherent safety concerns for the person seeking the protection order, and the long-term legal implications tied to having a permanent restraining order entered against the accused, it is advisable for both the accused and the accuser to obtain qualified attorney representation and advice.
Consequences of a Permanent Restraining Order
Firearms: If a person has a permanent restraining order against them that is related to domestic violence, that person will not be able to own, possess, or control a firearm, gun or rifle;
Employment: Employers often run background checks on new hires and employees. Permanent restraining orders will show up on a standard background check and may impact a person’s employability;
Child Custody: Permanent restraining orders may create issues with child custody in a pending divorce or current child visitation or parenting plan;
Housing: A restrained party is not allowed to reside in the same home as the protected party and will need to find other accommodations. Furthermore, landlords may elect to not allow a person to rent a property if they do not pass a background check.
Taking Revenge on Exes By Using Indecent Photographs
Did your ex-lover, friend, or spouse post explicit photos of you on the Internet? If you have been victimized by a former lover or friend who has used your “private” photos and videos against you for profit or revenge you may have options. The state of Colorado has implemented new law aimed at providing you with the ability to pursue a civil case, as well as a criminal case against the perpetrator. In 2014 Colorado passed two statutes making that type of “revenge” a crime: C.R.S. § 18-7-107, which governs the posting of private images for harassment, and C.R.S. § 18-7-108 which prohibits and criminalizes posting private images on the Internet for financial gain. At least one person has been prosecuted under this law already.
Your body, your person, and your dignity deserve respect under law, and thankfully Colorado has enacted laws to prevent this type of abuse and mental harm from continuing to happen to people, just like yourself, who believed they were engaging in an activity with someone trustworthy. Our right to privacy is important and each of us has reasonable expectations regarding that privacy when we are engaged in a consensual relationship with someone. The breaking of that trust can be heartbreaking and cause damage to not only one’s psyche, but in many other ways.
An attorney specializing in privacy or criminal law can be of help to you at this time by helping you to make a sound legal argument that associates all of the required elements needed to establish that a criminal or civil harm was done to you. In order to create your complaint your attorney must seek to establish that the images posted fall under the categories listed in the statutes, that you are identifiable, the intent, and your lack of consent. As these necessary elements are pulled together, a case emerges.
There is a reasonable expectation of privacy under law that Colorado’s legal system now supports and defends. If your privacy and consent has been ignored and abused you have been victimized, but you do not have to remain a victim. You can fight back.
Divorce can be an extremely emotional, turbulent time for many people. Reactions to the stress of divorce may differ, but most people experience the feelings of anger (even rage), frustration, anxiety, depression, and loss. If your spouse is quick to ignite, be particularly cautious during this period of time and pay close attention to the warning signs that can lead to domestic violence.
Domestic violence is usually a male vs. female encounter, but certainly women can also be the perpetrators. The key to stopping it is recognizing the escalation and acting before you become a victim. This can be easier said than done, but heightened vigilance and common-sense measures, such as avoiding possibly inflammatory situations, can make a big difference. If you are threatened or attacked, immediately contact the local authorities and consider securing your safety in a safe house designed to help victims of such violence.
Order of Protection
If your spouse becomes violent, or threatens violence, toward you or your children, you can obtain a restraining order to keep him or her away. Such an order, called an Order of Protection, prevents your spouse from contacting you, as well as any other person protected by the order. This type of restraining order is appropriate whenever an act or threat of violence occurs against you or a family member. In this instance, the term “family member” is broadly interpreted to include not only yourself, but also a relative, a previous spouse, someone with whom you presently live or have lived in the past, or even someone with whom you are currently (or were in the past) romantically involved.
The victim, as well as anyone else protected under the order, is instructed to keep the restraining order with him or her at all times. If the defendant violates the order, he or she has committed a criminal act and will be arrested. It is important, however, to realize that even with the restraining order in effect, the victim should take every possible safety precaution.
What does the restraining order actually do? It requires that the defendant stay away from, and have no contact whatsoever with, the victim or anyone else listed on the order. It’s important for a defendant to be aware, however, that he or she could be arrested for violating the restraining order even if the victim initiated the contact between them.
Steps to Take During A Divorce
It’s a good idea to keep a diary of the exact dates and a description of any incidents of domestic violence that occur during this period of time. Also keep track of any stalking (including cyber stalking) and other forms of harassment, plus threats of violence. Be sure to write down any examples of the defendant’s alcohol or drug abuse and his or her violent behavior or threats of violence against anyone else. In addition, be careful to save your email correspondence (or any other written exchanges) with the defendant.
Child Custody Issues
For obvious reasons, the courts are reluctant to award custody or joint custody to a defendant if there is evidence of domestic violence. If the court finds that a person is a perpetrator of an act of domestic violence, that person must be able to establish, and the judge must be satisfied, that the proposed defendant’s parenting time will not endanger the child in any way. When and if the parent can meet this burden of proof, the court will allow the defendant to have contact with the child ”“ and possibly joint custody ”“ depending upon the circumstances. Of course, appropriate conditions designed to protect both the child and the other parent from harm will be placed on the parenting time that is granted.
If you have a custody matter that involves domestic violence, you should seek the assistance of a skilled attorney at Divorce Matters®. Getting an attorney on board sooner, rather than later, can make a big difference.
Divorce Matters® represents clients throughout Metro Denver and the Front Range including: Arapahoe County, Aurora, Boulder, Bow Mar, Castle Pines, Castle Rock, Centennial, Douglas County, Englewood, Cherry Hills Village, Denver, Greenwood Village, Jefferson County, Highlands Ranch, Littleton, Lone Tree, Louisville, and Parker.
You can call Divorce Matters® today at (720) 542-6142 to schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys.
A restraining order can be obtained by filling out an official complaint form, including any other required forms, and filing it with the clerk of the court. At Divorce Matters®, we can handle this process for you. A judge will review the request the same day it is filed and make a decision. If the judge approves it, he will issue a temporary restraining order
Courts may act to protect children from being exposed to domestic violence between spouses through a “care and control” provision, where temporary custody can potentially be awarded to the parent seeking the temporary protection order. These provisions only run for 120 days. If you want to get a permanent protection order for your children, the only way to do so is if the children have been the direct victims of abuse or violence.
According to Colorado law, a restraining order can be issued to prevent assaults, threatened bodily harm, domestic abuse, emotional abuse, and stalking. You must prove “imminent danger” for temporary restraining orders to be issued. There are specific legal definitions for each of these terms, so it is best to consult with a family law attorney to determine if you have grounds for getting a restraining order from your spouse.