by William A. Baker, Esq.
Love Stinks. Immortal words penned by J. Geils Band lead singer Peter Wolf and keyboardist Seth Justman for the title track of their 1980 album. Eighteen years later Adam Sandler reintroduced the song and its message to our collective consciousness with his performance in The Wedding Singer. Now, sixteen years since that movie last played on the big screen, and thirty-four years since the album came out, the lyrics are as meaningful as ever. It is rumored that the song was written about Wolf’s marriage to actress Faye Dunaway (they divorced in 1979), but whatever the duo’s true motives, the message is clear: when love or other strong feelings are involved and people don’t see eye to eye, relationships can go awry.
Breaking up is normal. Unrequited love is normal. Feelings of sadness and loss for what was or what could have been are normal. The vast majority of us have experienced these things at one point or another. The experiences are challenging but ultimately help us grow. It is a part of life.
What is not normal is when these feelings manifest themselves in a way that leads to harassment, intimidation, or abuse. No one should have to live in fear of another. If that person you met with one time after being matched up on an online dating site simply will not stop calling you or suddenly starts showing up at work or outside your house, regardless of how clear you’ve made it that you’re not interested, there are options to ensure things don’t escalate further. Legally, you can ward off such unwanted attention by obtaining a civil protection order.
There are several ways that protection orders are issued in Colorado. To begin, when there is a criminal proceeding the court will issue a mandatory protective order. In addition, a court will issue a civil protection order when a victim petitions the court to have someone stay away from them. Finally, a temporary injunction automatically takes effect at the time that someone files for divorce.
The remainder of this article will focus on obtaining a civil protection order. A temporary or permanent civil protection order may be issued against an adult or juvenile that is ten years old or older. A protection order is issued by the court and prevents the restrained person from contacting, intimidating or harassing the protected person or from coming within a certain distance of a person or premises. The protection order also applies to animals and property owned by the protected person.
It is important to note a key distinction for obtaining a civil protection order. It is not enough that someone we know annoys us and we’d rather never speak to him or her again. A judge or magistrate must find that an imminent danger exists for the petitioner (the person seeking the protection order). To make this determination the court will consider all relevant evidence concerning the safety and protection of those seeking the protection order. C.R.S. § 13-14-104.5(7)(a). Protection orders can also be issued for businesses if the judge or magistrate finds that an imminent danger exists to the employees of a certain business. The exact terms of a protection order are dictated by each specific set of circumstances; but, most often, they prohibit the restrained person from contacting a certain individual or individuals or from going near a certain place.
A petitioner must follow the proper steps and make at least two court appearances in order to obtain a permanent civil protection order. Below is a brief overview of the process. Complete directions and all necessary forms can be found online at www.courts.state.co.us by clicking on the “Forms” tab and then selecting “Protection Orders.”
First, the petitioner must fill out all the necessary forms and verify their identity (that they are in fact the person asking for the protection order) by either signing the forms in the presence of a Notary Public or in person before the Court.
Second, the petitioner must file the forms with the court. The court will then conduct a temporary protection order hearing. The petitioner must be prepared to answer questions about his or her request in order to assist the judge or magistrate in making a decision regarding the temporary order. When the temporary order is granted the Court will set a date for the Permanent Order Hearing, usually within 14 days of the date of the initial hearing. The petitioner (now “protected person”) must obtain at least two certified copies of the temporary order from the court – one for he or she to carry with them at all times and one to serve the restrained person.
Third, the protected person must inform the restrained person of their “restrained” status and of the date of the Permanent Orders hearing by way of personal service. Personal service can be accomplished by providing a copy of the documents to the sheriff, a private process server, or anyone the petitioner knows who is 18 years or older and not a party to the case.
Finally, the protected person must appear at the permanent orders hearing to answer any further questions. The protected person may also call witnesses and present evidence at this time. The restrained person will also be present and may call witnesses and present evidence of his or her own behalf as to why a permanent order should not be issued. When the Court issues a permanent protection order the conditions (what the restrained person is restrained from doing) will be listed in the Order itself. The Order will remain in effect indefinitely unless either party petitions the court for modification of the order (which will require another hearing).
Protection orders should not be taken lightly and in most cases, they are unnecessary. However, if there is a feeling of imminent danger brought on by an old flame (or anyone for that matter) or a history of harassment, abuse, or any kind of violence, it is important to protect yourself. For questions or more information about protection orders call our office or visit our website.