Colorado Domestic Violence No Contact Orders
Colorado Domestic Violence Cases: How You Can Accidentally Violate a No Contact Order
A no-contact order means the court has forbidden one person to communicate with another. It is a common part of many legal proceedings, including divorce cases, cases of violence and cases of stalking or harassment. Proving violation of a no-contact order can be difficult, but victims can protect themselves by saving any potential evidence of contact and taking it to the court with the help of a lawyer or the police.
Text messages, emails and instant-messenger sessions.
Text messaging and email have become common ways to communicate. As a result, they’ve also become common ways of violating a no-contact order. Text messages, emails or instant messages from the offender to the victim are a clear violation. So are text messages or emails to the victim from friends or family of the offender speaking on the offender’s behalf.
Just like email and text messaging, social networking sites are popular ways for people to talk to each other. A message, comment, friend request or any sort of communication from the offender to the victim, even through a third party, violates the no-contact order.
Even though the offender or third party does not speak directly to the victim, voicemail is a means of communication and violates the no-contact order.
If the restrained person calls the alleged victim but does not leave a message, even the attempt to communicate with the victim violates the order. It is more difficult to prove a violation if the offender does not leave a message but uses someone else’s phone, a prepaid phone or pay phone, or blocks the telephone number from appearing on caller ID.
Because any violation a no-contact order is illegal any written communication, no matter how inconsequential, is illegal.
Violating a no-contact order is a crime when it is part of a criminal sentence or a condition of bail or probation. Police WILL make an arrest when they suspect the offender has violated the order, and hard physical proof only helps them make their case.
Consequences in Colorado
There can be both civil or criminal domestic violence no-contact orders against an accused.Violation of the Order of Protection can result in a number of penalties including orders of contempt and bench warrants. Violation of a no-contact order in a criminal domestic violence action results in additional criminal charges. Repeated or aggravated violations can result in aggravated stalking and other felony charges.
Unfortunately, these results may occur even in cases of inadvertent or innocent violations. Innocent violations such as contact through marital or family counseling and/or exchanges of the children can result in criminal charges for violations of the no-contact provisions in criminal cases. Worse yet, charges may result even if the alleged victim initiated the contact. This often happens when the alleged victim invites contact and then calls the police on contact or upon receiving a text or phone call from the accused. This may happen for any number of reasons. It may be malicious. At times, it could be that the alleged victim is simply confused or conflicted. The defendant may have a defense to the violation in cases where the alleged victim initiated the contact, but it will not prevent the criminal charges, and the stress and costs associated with those charges.
On many occasions, the alleged victim is confused or concerned about the process. The alleged victim may not want to pursue the case but be concerned about the calls or subpoenas from the district attorney’s office. Many times, the alleged victim will actually call the accused for advice in these situations. The alleged victim should be seeking independent legal counsel. The accused should not be talking with the alleged victim at all. Certainly, the accused should not be weighing in on issues related to the alleged victim’s cooperation in the criminal proceeding.
The accused in these situations should have no contact with the alleged victim. In fact, the accused should have absolutely no contact with the alleged victim under any circumstance when there is an order of protection or no-contact order in place. This includes receiving or returning calls or texts. The accused should under no circumstances advise or direct the alleged victim on how to proceed in the case. It is not uncommon that the alleged victim solicits the advice from the defendant and then passes the advice on to the prosecutor. At this point, an aggressive prosecutor may file charges for tampering or intimidation of a witness. Intimidation of a witness may be charged as a 3rd degree felony carrying felony sentencing. This is so even when where the accused is genuinely concerned about the alleged victim and sincerely trying to help.
If an alleged victim is confused about the process or his or her rights in the process, he or she should contact a criminal defense attorney for advice. The reality is that the process can be just as confusing and frightening to an alleged victim as it is for the accused. This is particularly so in cases that have been blown out of proportion by law enforcement or prosecutors, which at times seems the rule rather than the exception. Unfortunately, alleged victims have little input and no control over the process once it begins. However, they do have rights and a criminal defense attorney will be able to explain those rights along with any legal duties on the alleged victim as the process moves along.