Charged with Violation of a Protection Order?
Violation of a protection order (sometimes called a restraining order, and abbreviated to VPO or VRO) is a serious criminal charge in Colorado. You don’t even have to contact a protected party to be charged—most protection orders limit your right to firearms, alcohol, and more. A violation of any term of a protection order is the same as showing up on the doorstep of the protected party. If you’ve been charged with a VPO, it means that you had an existing protection order in place against you, either from a criminal or civil case. Now you have a new criminal case, and there may be an additional restraining order issued in this new case. Facing your criminal charges and dealing with the restraining orders can be daunting, but a Colorado criminal lawyer can help.
The first step is to make sure you know what protection orders are active against you, and what they say, and start complying with them strictly. There is a range of restrictions that a restraining order can impose, and sometimes they conflict. You must comply with the most restrictive terms. Further, you can not agree with the protected party that you will ignore the restraining order. Even if the other person calls you, you can get in trouble. If you want to modify or drop a Colorado restraining order, you have to go to court. A lawyer can help identify and modify protection orders. Until then, make sure to comply with every restraining order that is in effect against you. Read how to modify a criminal restraining order.
How to defend Violation of Protection Order charges
The next step is to talk to a criminal defense lawyer about your criminal charges. Sometimes a violation of a restraining order is easy for the DA to prove, but sometimes not. It completely depends on which terms of the protection order the DA says you violated, and the evidence. If your phone number is on the victim’s caller ID 25 times, or if police observe you together, you may not have a great chance of winning at trial. In a case like that, it is the criminal lawyer’s job to try to suppress evidence, or see if the underlying protection order was actually served properly and in effect. Most important, though, the criminal lawyer must provide mitigation to the court and DA and try to put the situation in context for them. By doing so, a criminal lawyer may be able to get a much better plea bargain. This is very important in VPO cases, as there are unique sentencing provisions that are a trap for the unprepared and unrepresented. (Read the penalties, below).
A criminal lawyer is more likely to win an acquittal at trial if there was no independent eyewitness to the alleged violation of protection order. Often, the protected party is not believable. Juries sometimes understand that people with protection orders have come out of bitter break-ups or custody battles, and might be using the courts and police to get back at each other. A criminal lawyer’s job in a case like that is to attack the credibility of the alleged victim, and to show the DA and jury the victim’s motive to lie, and any history of dishonesty. Of course, even without any dishonesty, many eyewitnesses make mistakes, and the DA might not have enough evidence to prove the crime. It takes a skilled criminal trial lawyer to successfully defend cases like these, but it is certainly possible to win.
Matthew Hand is a Denver criminal lawyer with extensive trial experience. He has handled dozens of cases involving violation of a protection order, and has gone to trial on several of them. Having seen so many cases, he knows what works and what doesn’t, both in trial and in plea negotiations. He can help you.
Penalties for a violation of protection order in Colorado
You need to be aware of how seriously Colorado law and courts treat these charges. Here are the penalties.
–It is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 18 months in jail if a person violates a protection order that was issued in a criminal case.
–It is a class 2 misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in jail if a civil protection order is violated.
–It is important to know that any sentence for a violation of a criminal protection order must be served consecutive to any sentence in the underlying case (the case that gave rise to the protection order in the first place).
–If you are out on bond, chances are that the protection order is a condition of that bond. A violation could lead to your arrest and forfeiture of that bond. It could also lead to a criminal charge of violation of bail bonds, a powerful charge that gives the DA leverage against you.