Violence in the Home and Family Law

Unfortunately, too many domestic relationships are marred by abuse and violence. The Family Law attorney must understand the relief available for victims, and be prepared to defend a client who has been accused of violence or abuse. When violence occurs, there are several points of entry to the judicial system for the affected family. They include child protective services, adult protective services, the criminal justice system, the juvenile justice system, and the civil courts.

A. Protective orders Under Title 18 vs. Civil Protective Order

In Colorado, there are two processes for entry of protection orders between spouses or domestic partners. A mandatory protection order is created whenever a person is charged with a violation the Colorado Criminal Code, Title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. The order “… restrains the person charged from harassing, molesting, intimidating, retaliating against, or tampering with any witness or victim of the acts charged.” §18-1-1001(1), C.R.S. In the context of domestic violence or child abuse, typically a law enforcement agency is responding to an emergency call or a report. When a charge is then filed, the court will issue the protection order. When there is violence in the home, very often the other family members who are not the direct victim are witnesses. Thus, the protective order often applies to the defendant’s entire family.

Upon motion, the order may be modified or dismissed. In the case of domestic violence, the order can be expanded to prohibit any contact between defendant and the victim and witnesses, prohibit alcohol or drug use, and prohibit possession of a firearm. Violation of the mandatory protection order is prosecutable as a misdemeanor pursuant to §18-6-803.5, C.R.S.

The mandatory protection order continues in effect until the final disposition of the criminal action, including the completion of any sentence to incarceration or jail.

A civil protection order is granted by the appropriate court upon the motion or complaint of a victim to prevent assaults and bodily harm, domestic abuse, emotional abuse of the elderly, or stalking. The procedure for obtaining a civil protection order is set forth in §13-14-102, C.R.S. and Rule 365, C.R.C.P.

By: Rich M. Arnold, Esq.  Arnold & Arnold, LLP