You and your significant other get in a loud disagreement and a neighbor calls the cops. Next thing you know, you’re in handcuffs and facing domestic violence charges. But it was just a disagreement – maybe someone had a bit too much to drink and you didn’t realize how loud you two were being? Regardless of what precipitated the disagreement, next thing you know, as a condition of getting out of jail, you’re forced to sign a Mandatory Protection Order Pursuant to C.R.S. §18-1-1001. But you’re certain that if you just talk to your sweetie, everything will work out, right? Wrong.
Colorado has very strict laws with regard to Mandatory Protection Orders (“MPOs”) and the conditions are not something to be taken lightly. An MPO is issued for every domestic violence charge as a condition of leaving jail no matter how bogus the underlying criminal charges may seem (C.R.S. §§18-6-800.3, 18-3-602, 16-22-102, 6-4-103, 16-3-105). It may also require that a party maintain distance from other family members, including children. An MPO requires that a Defendant not “harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against, or tamper with any witness or victim of the acts you are charged with committing.” If you live with the alleged victim, you may also be required to vacate the home or other location where the victim will likely be – such as a place of employment, school, etc. It also can prohibit communication with the alleged victim, possession or consumption of alcohol/controlled substances, and possessing or having control over a firearm or other weapon. MPOs can wreak havoc on a family, especially if it is just a big misunderstanding and no real domestic violence actually occurred.
That being said, it is critical that all defendants adhere to the terms of their specific MPO. I have clients who come to me and say, “But what about freedom of speech? It’s the love of my life and this is just a big mistake! And if I just talk to him/her, I’m sure we can get this all worked out!” Frankly, as harsh as this sounds, it doesn’t matter. Violation of an MPO has dire consequences including up to 18 months in jail, being held in contempt of court, and fines up to $5,000.00 (C.R.S. §18-6-803.5), not including punishment for the underlying criminal charges. And Judges seem to be taking violations of MPOs more and more seriously.
Even if the alleged victim gives you permission or reaches out to you, it’s still considered a violation of the MPO. The victim does not have the authority to lift the MPO. This sort of situation puts a Defendant in a particularly precarious situation. Only a Court can change the terms of the MPO, not an alleged victim. Further, when an alleged victim petitions a Court for relief from an MPO, we are seeing Courts take a more proactive roll in questioning whether an alleged victim is the victim of battered woman’s syndrome or other psychological manipulation and they are getting increasingly difficult to modify.
MPOs are very serious and it helps to have an experienced legal team on your side working to get the MPO lifted. Contact our expert Criminal Law Group to assist you in your defense, at 1-(888) 458-0991.