Do you have an old restraining order that you want to have removed? Here’s how to do it, even if your restraining order is permanent.
What is a Permanent Protective Order in Colorado?
Restraining orders (also known as permanent protective orders) are court orders that forbid someone from interacting with another person. Whether it’s in-person, digitally, or over the phone, the restrained person is prohibited from contacting the protected person for a specified amount of time. They can be temporary or permanent.
Although the laws vary from state to state, restraining orders are relatively easy to obtain. Unfortunately, for this reason, they’re not always warranted and can debilitate the lives of those who are actually innocent. If you or someone you know wants to remove an old restraining order, understand that not all hope is lost. We’ll discuss how to file a restraining order, as well as how to get one removed.
Please note: This article is not a substitute for legal advice. Contact an attorney to obtain legal counsel that’s specific to your case.
How to Get a Restraining Order
Restraining orders are very common in cases of domestic and sexual violence, as well as harassment and stalking. The legal requirements for obtaining a restraining order vary by state, but there must be some sort of rationale for a restraining order to be granted. In Colorado specifically, individuals seeking a restraining order must prove that their life is in immediate danger to be granted a restraining order.
Protective orders are intended to protect individuals from a variety of actions, including:
- Domestic violence
- Colorado Stalking (Vonnie’s Law)
If a person wants to get a restraining order, s/he must file a formal request (known as a petition) with their local court. The filing process may require certain criteria to be met for making such a request, including the necessary fees to file a petition.
Once the court approves the request, the restraining order will be made temporary by default. This is known as a temporary restraining order or TRO. The TRO will then be delivered (usually by law enforcement) to the perpetrator.
After the TRO is delivered, the protected party and the restrained person will be required to attend a hearing to make the restraining order permanent. This will be a chance for the restrained to make his or her case as to why the order should not be made permanent. The judge will hear the case, then make a decision.
Once a restraining order is granted, the restrained person is not permitted to contact the protected person (or persons) in any way, shape, or form. This includes sending flowers or gifts and usually requires the restrained person to maintain a specific distance from the protected person.
Consequences for restraining order violations are different in each state but typically result in a hefty fine and jail time.
Prohibited Actions Under a Colorado Restraining Order
The purpose of a protective order is to protect an individual from someone else. This means contact will be limited or completely forbidden, depending on the specific circumstances of each unique situation. People who have a protective order placed against them may be prohibited from the following contact with the protected person:
- Sexual assault
- Entering or remaining on-premises
- Coming within a specified distance of a protected person or premises
- Taking, harming, or threatening harm to an animal
Of course, in this technologically driven era, judges are also mindful of contact that could be performed through digital channels. As such, Colorado law has been updated to prohibit digital contact under restraining orders, as well. This means the restrained person will likely be prohibited from contacting the protected person through most types of online contact spaces, including social media platforms. Prohibited digital contact can include the following channels:
- Phone calls
- Text messages
- Instant messages
How to Remove a Restraining Order
The protected person can remove a permanent restraining order by filing a new petition with the court. However, removing a restraining order does not come without consequence: Judges are very leery of lifting restraining orders to guard the best interests of the protected party. Removal of a protection order could potentially result in harm to the protected individual, so the process is approached with the utmost caution.
The restrained person can also petition to remove a permanent restraining order; however, this process is extremely difficult and there are strict requirements that must be met for this to happen. These requirements may vary from state to state, but typically include:
- Time – A certain amount of time must have passed since the restraining order was issued.
- Criminal record – The restrained person must not have been convicted of any misdemeanors or felonies relating to the petitioner since the restraining order was implemented. The restrained person also must complete a criminal background check.
- Reason – The restrained person must give a rationale as to why the order should be lifted.
In Colorado, to lift a permanent restraining order, the restrained person must supply his or her fingerprints to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the FBI. That person must also pay the cost of a criminal history record check. If the court doesn’t receive the results of a criminal history check, the judge will likely not consider any motion to modify the existing restraining order.
Removing a restraining order is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. Consult an attorney before filing a petition to dismiss a restraining order for any reason, as your decision can have a huge impact on you for the rest of your life.
Colin Bresee is an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer with roughly 20 years of experience under his belt. If you have an old restraining order that you want to be removed, call 303-647-4439 to schedule a free consultation.
By Shannon Lynch