What is a Mandatory Protection Order (MPO)?
Under Colorado Revised Statute 18-1-1001, whenever an individual is charged with a crime in Colorado, the court orders a mandatory protection order (sometimes called a restraining order). This order goes into effect at the time the person is advised of their rights at their arraignment date. A mandatory protection order (sometimes referred to simply as an “MPO”) will always require the defendant to not harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, harm, or tamper with any witness or the alleged victim of the crime. If the restrained person has any contact with a protected person in defiance of this order there can be severe criminal penalties. Unlike a civil permanent protection order, these conditions will only remain in effect until the final disposition of the case. However, in a criminal case that may not be for months (or much longer if someone is on probation). Mandatory protection orders are designed to protect victims and witnesses, and maintain the integrity of the criminal case against the defendant.
In Domestic Violence Cases, A Mandatory Protection Order Will Contain No No Contact Provisions
In addition to imposing the basic requirement of not harassing or intimidating the alleged victim or witnesses in a case, mandatory protection orders can include any number of other requirements. In cases involving domestic violence or the danger of domestic abuse, the court usually enters a no contact provision on the order, meaning that the defendant is not to communicate with the alleged victim (the protected person) whatsoever. Both direct, and indirect communication is prohibited. This means that the defendant cannot attempt to communicate with the victim by text, call, email, relaying messages through a third party, or even simply sending gifts or flowers. No communication at all. This type of provision in domestic violence matters can be particularly devastating to families when two spouses or partners are suddenly unable to communicate with each other or to help each other with normal family matters and care of the children.
Importantly, it also means that even if the alleged victim attempts to communicate with the defendant, the defendant cannot respond. After all, a protection order only restrains the defendant, not the protected person. Defendants are often tempted to respond when contacted by their significant other or the other party, but this can lead to new criminal charges. In addition to restricting the defendant from communicating with the alleged victim, MPOs issued in cases charged as domestic violence also come with an order to vacate or stay away from the home of the alleged victim. Needless to say, when the defendant is married to and has children with the alleged victim or protected person, this requirement often becomes even more difficult (and impractical) for everyone involved.
It is also common for MPO’s to require the defendant to give up all firearms, ammunition, and other weapons, and refrain from purchasing or possessing these things until the mandatory protection order is lifted. Forfeiting Second Amendment gun rights, even temporarily, can be hard for many individuals who own guns. It also can cause many issues to arise for military servicemembers and others whose careers depend on their ability to carry a weapon.
Mandatory protection orders can prohibit a defendant from possessing or consuming alcohol, marijuana, or controlled substances. However reasonable this requirement may be in some cases, there is no denying it is still obviously very restrictive. For people who regularly use alcohol, marijuana, or other substances, this requirement can be very disruptive to their lives.
Beyond the authority judges have for imposing the specific restrictions discussed above, a judge may also issue essentially any other requirement he or she deems appropriate to protect the safety of the alleged victim and witnesses and to minimize the chances of further domestic abuse. Every requirement in a mandatory protection order has potential to cause unique problems for different clients. For more information about common problems and difficulties that mandatory protection orders can cause, see our MPO Common Problems article which goes into a little more detail on these issues.
Penalties For Violating A Mandatory Protection Order
Violating any of the terms of a mandatory protection order, such as those discussed above, may result in criminal penalties. If a protected person or anyone else contacts the police, other local law enforcement agency, or the District Attorney's Office, with a complaint about a violation of the order, law enforcement will usually pursue a prosecution for the violation. The crime of violation of a protection order is a class 1 misdemeanor, which is the most serious level of in Colorado crime short of a felony. The possible penalties for this crime are up to 18 (or in some cases 24) months in jail and/or $5,000 in fines. Additionally, because mandatory protection orders are often issued as a part of a bond, violating the MPO may also be charged as a violation of bond conditions. If the underlying charge resulting in the MPO was a misdemeanor, violation of bond conditions will be charged as a class 3 misdemeanor, with penalties of up to 6 months jail and/or a fine of $50 to $750. However, if the underlying charge for the MPO was a felony, violation of the bond conditions will be charged as a class 6 felony, which is a serious and potentially life-altering offense. The possible penalties for this charge are imprisonment of 12 to 18 months in jail, and/or a fine between $1,000 and $100,000. The penalties for a violation of a MPO or bond conditions conviction cannot be served concurrently with the sentence received for the original underlying charge. Instead, the sentence will be added on to the end of the sentence for the underlying charge, making the total imprisonment and/or fine more severe than they otherwise would have been. It is also important to note that a defendant can be convicted of violating an MPO or bond condition even if he or she eventually has the underlying charge dismissed.
If you are concerned about a mandatory protection order, the best thing you can do is to hire a defense lawyer before any problems arise. A good attorney may be able to help you get the protection order modified to help ensure that you will not violate any of the conditions. However, if you find yourself facing not only the criminal charge which resulted in a mandatory protection order being issued, but also a violation of that MPO or bond conditions, it is imperative that you contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney immediately who can handle both charges at once. Colorado criminal defense lawyer Patterson Weaver and his team can help you fight your charges to get the best outcome possible in your particular case. Even if no legal defense exists, hiring a Colorado criminal defense lawyer who is skilled in negotiation can help ensure that you are treated fairly and receive the best possible outcome for your case.
What are the Differences Between a Mandatory Restraining Order and a Civil Restraining Order?
While mandatory protection orders and civil restraining orders can often have the same effect, the purposes for which they are issued differ. Mandatory protection orders are issued to protect the alleged victim and witnesses in a criminal case. Civil restraining orders are requested by a person seeking protection (a petitioner) from the restrained person (the respondent) through a civil court process even when there is not necessarily a corresponding criminal case. Typically in a civil case the petitioner who claims to be a victim of domestic abuse submits an affidavit to the court clerk submitting the basis for the requested order in an attempt to receive a temporary protection order. This temporary protection order an ex parte order, meaning it is obtained without notice to or the participation of the respondent. Once the court issues this temporary protection order (or TPO for short), the sheriff's office or a process server must then serve the order upon the respondent. Then a hearing to determine if there is cause to issue a permanent restraining order.
In contrast, criminal restraining and protection orders are issued in all criminal cases almost automatically (whether the involved parties want it or not), and always protect the alleged victim, often a girlfriend or boyfriend, spouse, or former spouse.
It is possible for there to both be a criminal mandatory protection order in place as well as a civil protection order. When this happens, it is not uncommon for the provisions of the two orders to be in conflict with each other, leading to confusion regarding what a defendant may or may not do. Until such a conflict between the orders is resolved, a defendant should always obey the most restrictive order to protect themselves from potential new charges for violating one of the orders. A skilled Colorado criminal defense lawyer such as those at Patterson Weaver Law can help resolve these conflicts and better protect you from problems arising from the various orders
Violation of either type of restraining order can result in criminal penalties (as discussed above) or in proceedings for contempt of court.
What Can I Do About My Mandatory Protection Order?
Fortunately, mandatory protection orders can be modified, particularly with the consent of the protected party. It is very common for married couples and partners to request a modification of a mandatory protection order that allows the couple to have normal contact and even for the defendant to return home. However, even if the modification is granted, the protection order remains in place for the duration of the criminal case and, at the minimum, forbids harassment, coercion, intimidation, punishment, and other problematic behaviors. If you find yourself legally prevented from returning home, or even being with or communicating with your loved ones due to a criminal charge, it is imperative that you retain experienced legal counsel immediately. A good Colorado criminal defense lawyer with experience dealing with issues surrounding mandatory protection orders may be able to help.
The Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyers at Patterson Weaver Law may be able to help you not only modify the mandatory protection order in your ongoing criminal case, but also help you with the charges you are facing. Do what it takes to make sure you are treated fairly, and contact Patterson Weaver Law today for a completely free consultation. Our experienced and aggressive attorneys will help you understand what your options are in your criminal case and can help you get your mandatory protection order modified so you can get back to living your life and seeing your loved ones.
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