Use of Protective Orders in Criminal and Family Law Cases

Protective orders are of utmost importance in both family law and criminal cases as they serve to protect the safety and welfare of individuals involved. Colorado, like many other states, has implemented legal frameworks and procedures to address the issuance and enforcement of protective orders, commonly known as restraining orders. In this blog post, we will explore the importance of protective orders in both criminal and family law cases and shed light on the relevant laws in Colorado. As experts in family law, the attorneys at COLawTeam are well-versed in the intricacies of protective orders and can provide invaluable guidance and representation to clients seeking protection or facing allegations.

I. Understanding Protective Orders in Colorado

A. Types of Protective Orders:

In Colorado, individuals seeking protection can pursue different types of protective orders, including temporary restraining orders (TROs) and permanent protection orders (PPOs). Restraining orders are typically obtained in family law cases and stand-alone civil cases. Mandatory protection orders (MPOs) are issued in every criminal case in the State of Colorado when a person is seen in court the very first time. Typically, these MPO’s can include generic terms like no drinking alcohol, but can also be full no contact orders (NCO’s).

B. Restraining Orders in Family Law and Civil Cases:

Purpose and Eligibility:

Restraining orders in family law cases have a specific aim of safeguarding individuals and/or their children from occurrences of domestic violence, harassment, stalking, sexual assault or other menacing actions. Restraining orders are granted to protect one person (the petitioner or the protected party) from the other (the restrained party). The parties may or may not be in a relationship together. The process for family law vs. civil law is basically the same.

Process and Enforcement:

To obtain a restraining order, a petitioner must file a request with the court, outlining the reasons for seeking protection. Testimony without the other party present will usually help the Court make this determination. If the court grants the temporary restraining order, it will specify the prohibited actions for two weeks, during which the petitioner must serve the restrained party with a copy of the restraining order and a summons for the next hearing. The second hearing will then be with both parties present and limited to the issue of whether the temporary restraining order should be made permanent.  Violating a restraining order may lead to criminal charges.

C. Mandatory Protection Orders in Criminal Cases:

Definition and Scope:

Mandatory protection orders, also known as criminal protection orders, are typically issued in all criminal cases in Colorado. There is a standard form in Colorado for these cases, and the judge can determine how to craft any extra provisions or exceptions. The judge will typically always check the first box, prohibiting the defendant from harassing or retailiating against a victim or witness of the crime. Criminal restraining orders will remain in effect as long as the criminal case is open. In other words, once the sentence for the crime is complete or the case is dropped, the MPO will be dismissed. Often, our attorneys at COLawTeam will be dealing with both a civil TRO/PPO situation as well as an MPO situation at the same time in two different courtrooms.

Criminal Protection Order Violations:

Violating a criminal protection order is a serious offense in Colorado. If the offender violates the conditions of the order, they can potentially be subjected to criminal charges and supplementary consequences, such as monetary fines or imprisonment. A criminal restraining order violation carries significantly more penalties than a violation of a civil restraining order and may also expose you to possible charges for Witness Tampering, which is a felony in Colorado.

II. Colorado Laws and Procedures Regarding Protective Orders

A. Restraining Orders:

Statutory Framework:

Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.) Section 13-14-101 et seq. governs restraining orders in family law cases. It outlines the eligibility criteria, the process for obtaining an order, and the penalties for violating the order.

Court Considerations:

When determining the appropriateness of granting a restraining order, the court takes into account various factors, including the past instances of domestic violence, the potential risk of harm, and the well-being and best interests of any children affected by the situation.


Modifying a permanent restraining order is costly, difficult, and time-consuming. Modification brought by the respondent / restrained party can only be sought after an appropriate waiting period, usually two years.

B. Mandatory Protection Orders:

Legal Basis:

C.R.S. Section 18-1-1001 et seq. provides the legal foundation for mandatory protection orders in criminal cases. It establishes the grounds for issuing the order and the penalties for violating it.

Duration and Modification:

Permanent protection orders are typically valid for the length of the criminal case, but the court may modify or terminate them based on changing circumstances or at the request of the involved parties.

III. Seeking Legal Representation for Protective Order Matters

Navigating the complexities of protective orders can be daunting, especially when personal safety and family dynamics are at stake. At COLawTeam, our experienced family law attorneys and criminal defense attorneys are dedicated to helping clients understand their rights and options. We offer compassionate guidance, assist in filing for protective orders, and vigorously defend clients against baseless accusations.


Protective orders serve as critical tools in safeguarding individuals from harm in both criminal and family law cases, but these orders should be used as a shield and not a sword. Protecting both victims and the rights of the accused, as well as both sides in a family law case should be the Court’s goal here, but often who prevails at a protection order hearing in either criminal or family law court is determined by the skill of the lawyer.. Understanding the nuances of Colorado’s laws and procedures surrounding restraining orders and mandatory protection orders is essential. If you require legal assistance related to protective orders, the knowledgeable attorneys at COLawTeam have tons of experience in this area. Our founder, Justie Nicol, even holds a grant-funded contract to help victims of DV seek protection orders in the Denver metro area. We would be glad to help you with your restraining order questions any time!