The Temptation of Texting, Calling, or Writing with a No Contact Order—Don’t

Unfortunately, despite popular belief, not all attorneys are rich. However, many more would be rich if we had a nickel every time we heard a client with a protection order against him (or her) say, “but she (or he) texted me first!” After all—how is it fair that you can get in trouble for texting someone when they started the conversation? Or for picking up the phone when they call? It may not be fair, but it is the law.

Here’s the fact. If you have been ordered to have no contact, either in a criminal case or because of a civil restraining order, no contact means no contact. None. Zip. Zero. Not if there is an earthquake. Not if there are nuclear missiles raining down on Colorado from the sky. Not even if the Rockies win the World Series.

I know. This sounds harsh. But I promise it is said in a spirit of tough love. A protection order violation in Colorado carries significant penalties and can derail any deal your attorney has put together. If you’re tempted to text, call, or write the alleged victim, contact a criminal defense attorney instead with Patterson Weaver Law, LLC.

Types of Protection Orders in Colorado

Any victim of domestic violence or anyone who fears that they will become a victim may petition the court for a civil protection order against their alleged abuser. As a result, the restrained person will have to comply with a tough set of Colorado rules for a certain period of time or permanently, depending on the type of protection order filed. Each protection order contains unique provisions for each case, such as:

  • Avoiding contact with the victim, including contact via phone, text, email, and social media
  • Avoiding certain locations where the alleged victim often goes, like home and work
  • Temporarily surrendering custody of children or pets to the alleged victim
  • Not selling certain assets

Alleged victims of domestic violence can seek such orders from civil court.

In contrast, criminal restraining orders in Colorado are issued by criminal courts when criminal charges are pending. These orders are automatic and can be put in place even if the supposed victim doesn’t want them. These orders are mandatory following certain offenses, such as domestic violence. There’s no hearing like there is with a civil protection order You’re just told to immediately stop contact with the alleged victim – without being able to explain anything to the judge.

These orders may go by other names, such as:

  • Mandatory Protection Order
  • 18-1-1001 Order (after the Colorado Statute that dictates the order)
  • Orders of Protection
  • Protection Orders
  • Protective Orders
  • Restraining Orders
  • Stay-Away Orders
  • No-Contact Orders

These orders typically last until the criminal case is resolved. It’s crucial not to contact the alleged “victim” while this type of order is in place for your case to avoid landing behind bars or damaging your underlying criminal case.

As experienced criminal defense attorneys, we often represent people who are subject to criminal mandatory protection orders. We don’t want you to get in any more trouble, so we strongly advise against any type of contact with the alleged victim while your case is pending. If you have any questions about criminal restraining orders or violation of restraining orders in CO, don’t hesitate to contact our knowledgeable criminal defense lawyers.

What Happens if You Violate a Protection Order in CO? 

Here’s the problem with contact when you are ordered to have none: It can result in either a new charge or contempt of court. Violating a civil restraining order is a Class 2 Misdemeanor, subject to 3-12 months in jail and a possible fine of $250-$1,000. Violating a criminal protection order is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, subject to 6-24 months in jail, and a possible fine of $500 to $5,000. You can be arrested, and the court can set a bail amount for violating a restraining order.

So, what happens if you violate a restraining order twice? A second or subsequent violation of a protective order is a class 1 extraordinary risk misdemeanor crime, which imposes a jail sentence of 6 to 24 months and/or fines ranging from $500 to $5,000. As an alternative to jail, a judge may sentence you to probation.

>And, if you have a pending criminal case, you can face even harsher consequences. That sweet deal your attorney almost had worked out for you is likely gone. This is because it’s much harder for your attorney to get you a great disposition on a case when there are now two cases against you instead of just one. Also, any bail you paid might be revoked because not contacting the victim might have been a condition of your release.

Does a No-Contact Order Go Both Ways?

I often get questions like, “What happens if the victim violates a no-contact order in Colorado?” or “Can a victim contact the defendant with a no-contact order in Colorado?” The way these orders are written is to restrict your (the defendant’s) actions, not those of the alleged victim. Therefore, a victim can call you and if you communicate with them, you can still face charges of a no contact order violation by the victim. Therefore, the “victim” can call you repeatedly and harass you, but if you pick up that phone and talk to him or her, you’re the one who could be facing criminal charges for violating the order.

How Long Does a Mandatory Protection Order in a Criminal Case Last?

A mandatory protection order lasts until the end of your case.  That could mean it lasts until your case is dismissed, or it could mean it lasts until after you are off probation two or three years down the road.

How Are No Contact Orders Monitored?

How does the court know if a no contact order is violated anyway? Many people wonder, “Do police do random checks on no contact orders?” It is unlikely that police will be actively watching you for a garden variety case. They usually lack the manpower to do this type of monitoring. Most of the time, violations are reported by the victim to law enforcement or the court. So, if you call, text, or otherwise contact the alleged victim, expect this to come back around to bite you and wreak havoc in your case.

Even if there is no contact order monitoring by law enforcement, you should still proceed as though you are being watched. With surveillance cameras, everyone having a camera and video recorder in their cell phone, electronic storage for voicemails and emails, and so on, you are being recorded multiple times throughout the day. So don’t risk it. Don’t go anywhere close to the alleged victim or reach out to them. Your freedom is on the line.

The Temptation Isn’t Worth the Consequence 

I know you probably want to contact the alleged victim. You want to sort out the problem, go home, and put this mess behind you. However, contacting them can lead to more problems. The temptation of violating a restraining order in Colorado isn’t worth the consequence of landing behind bars.

I don’t want to sound like we criminal defense attorneys are not sympathetic. Anyone that has practiced in criminal law for long has a certain understanding of how such violations can happen. A loving couple has a bad night, one of them gets arrested for a dumb incident, and the judge orders no contact with the “victim”. The “victim” sends the defendant a text saying “I’m sorry honey—I didn’t mean for this to happen.” You respond, “It’s ok—I love you, we’ll get through this together.” Very sweet right? Yes. And if law enforcement or the District Attorney finds out about it, a new charge as well.

Often such instances arise from the opposite situation. A couple is going through a nasty divorce. One spouse calls the police on the other spouse and exaggerates facts to gain an upper hand in the custody battle, charges are filed, the defendant is arrested, and the court orders no contact with the “victim”. The “victim” then proceeds to leave dozens of voicemails for the “defendant” spouse berating him or her. Finally, the “defendant” spouse succumbs to the constant calls, picks up the phone, and says “leave me alone, I don’t want to talk to you!” You guessed it—violation of a criminal protection order.

I once saw a case where a defendant was charged with violating a domestic violence related protection order for sending a Mother’s Day card with a kind sentiment to the mother of his children. True story.

Bottom line, no contact means no contact, not even through a third party or with Mother’s Day card. If you need to contact the other party for any legitimate reason, go through your attorney. Otherwise, no matter what your intentions, you may well be exposing yourself to a criminal charge.

Can a Mandatory Protection Order Be Changed?

The short answer is yes. It is possible to request that the court modify a criminal mandatory restraining order in certain ways. The most common modifications include permitting normal contact or the defendant being permitted to return to the house. However, the court will never (or very rarely) make such a change to an order without the alleged victim’s consent. Even if the court does make such a change to the order, many provisions of the order (such as no intimidation, harassment, punishing, etc.) will remain in place and effective for the life of your criminal case. If you are interested in making a modification to a 18-1-1001 Mandatory Protection Order, an experienced domestic violence defense attorney such as those at Patterson Weaver Law can greatly help you increase your chances of success.

Your Next Steps 

If you are facing charges, our violation of protection order lawyer in Colorado Springs with Patterson Weaver Law, LLC is just a phone call away at (719) 215-8049. Or you can fill out our online contact form to request a call back. The sooner you protect yourself with our powerhouse defense attorney, the greater your chances could be of getting a favorable outcome in your case. Let’s get started on fighting for that possibility today.