A protection order can have a dramatic impact on every aspect of your life, limiting who you can speak to, the places you can go, and the things you can do. In some cases, a protection order—sometimes referred to as a “restraining order”—can keep you from entering your own home or speaking with your children.
But while the terms of your restraining order may seem harsh or unfair, it is critical that you comply with them strictly. Failure to comply with the rules of your protection order can lead to further criminal charges and penalties that are even tougher and more restrictive.
If you have been served with a protection order in Colorado, be sure to examine the order closely and familiarize yourself with its terms. There are many different ways to violate a protection order, and you must follow your terms closely if you want to avoid being arrested and charged with this type of crime.
Every order is unique, but we’ve listed eight of the most common ways you can violate a protection order below.
- Coming too close to the alleged victim. Most restraining orders will require you to keep a certain amount of distance between you and the protected person at all times.
- Contacting the alleged victim. Typically, a protection order will bar you from contacting the person who took out the order against you in any way. This includes calling, texting, emailing, or using a social network to contact the alleged victim. Even sending a birthday or Mother’s Day card to a protected person may qualify as a violation of your protection order.
- Failing to move out of your home. A domestic violence-related protection order may order you to move out of the home that you share with the protected person immediately. A police officer will accompany you to your residence to collect your belongings and clothes. Under the terms of your protection order, you could face serious legal trouble for visiting your former residence.
- Visiting your shared workplace or school. Restraining orders can be especially tricky if you and the alleged victim have to work in the same location or attend the same school. A restraining order may order you not to interfere with the alleged victim’s career or education in anyway, thus barring you from entering your own workplace or school if you share them with the victim.
- Failing to pay bills. Even though you may be forced to move out of your home, your protection order could order you to continue to pay mortgage, rent, insurance, or utilities for your former home. You may also be ordered to pay for household services, transportation, medical care, and childcare expenses.
- Failing to comply with child visitation rules. Depending on the provisions of your order, you could be restricted in the amount of time you can spend with your children or barred from making important decisions about their life. Your protection order can give the alleged victim temporary care, control, and decision-making capabilities for your child if the judge believes this will keep the child out of an abusive or unhealthy environment.
- Purchasing or possessing a gun. Oftentimes, protection orders will require that you forfeit any firearm or ammunition for the duration of the order, and prohibit you from purchasing or using any kind of weapon while the order is in effect. If you are in a line of work that requires you to use a firearm—such as the military or police force—you may be required to leave your job.
- Responding to contact attempts of the alleged victim. This is an especially important one to keep in mind. Under the terms of a restraining order, you are barred from all contact with the protected person—even if he or she attempts to contact you first. That means that you can be charged with a protection order violation simply by responding to a text message from a victim or even picking up the phone if he or she calls.
While the terms of a restraining order can be incredibly complicated, restrictive, and life-altering, it is imperative you follow them closely. Violating the terms of a protective order—even an unfair one—constitutes a serious criminal offense. If you believe you have been served an unjust or unlawful protection order, the only way to reverse it is by contesting the order in court with the help of an attorney.
However, if you have already been charged with violating your restraining order, you still options. Contact an experienced Colorado criminal attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney may be able to demonstrate that you did not knowingly or intentionally violate your protection order, and should not be held accountable. With the help of an experienced defense lawyer, you may be able to avoid severe consequences such as jail time, hefty fines, and community service.