If you are arrested in Colorado for any domestic violence offense, you must be advised by a judge prior to release. This means you may spend a day or more in jail while you wait for the court to call your case (often, there is no judge available on weekends). If you are going to turn yourself in on a DV charge, you need to make sure you can get on the court’s advisement docket the same day. In Boulder, this means that you turn yourself in prior to 7am on the weekday you hope to appear in front of the judge. Other counties, like Denver, have a weekend court.
The law requires a judge explain the mandatory protection order on the case. The order often requires that you vacate the shared home and have no contact with the alleged victim, as well as no drugs or alcohol and possess no weapons (guns). No contact means no person to person, no telephone, no text, no email, no social media and no having a friend talk to him/her for you. You cannot send a birthday card or other present. Typically, they have you sign the protection order paperwork and give you a copy.
The domestic violence mandatory protection order can be modified to allow certain contact via a request by the alleged victim. This is not a place for the alleged victim to tell the judge why the accused should not be charged or about any defenses. When the alleged victim tries to convince a judge no charges should be filed, the judge things the AV is in denial about a domestic abuse relationship and feels the need to protect the AV from themselves. But, shared finances, taking care of the kids and other discussions of a home are often valid reasons for a judge to allow phone, email, 3rd party and public place contact. In Boulder, the judges like the accused to start domestic violence classes (36+ week state certified program), before allowing a person back into the family home. A modification to move back home can take weeks or months, depending on injures, allegations and priors.
The protection order conditions are almost always made to be bond conditions in domestic violence and abuse cases. This means a violation of the protection order allows the prosecution to revoke the bond, add violation of protection order (VPO) charges and violation of bail bond conditions (VBB) charges. The VBB charges carry a minimum mandatory 6 months of jail for a misdemeanor and 1 year of prison for a felony. The violation of bail bond conditions charge is not often prosecuted, but it does provide the district attorney with good leverage to force a plea that you may not want to do.
The good news is that most people get a personal recognizance bond (PR bond) or a lower bond. A higher bond is ordered where the injuries are more severe, there are prior convictions, with a felony charge, allegations of the use of a weapon (knife, firearm). A PR Bond means that you simply need to sign a piece of paper to be released. If you violate the term of the bond, the court can require you to pay money, but that is rare.
Once you are released, you can ask the county sheriff’s office for a Civil Assist. This means that a sheriff deputy meets you at the home where you are no longer allowed to live. The deputy observes while you gather a few belongings, like clothes, computer and other basics necessary for survival. They usually give you about 5-10 minutes. Any disputed items will likely have to be left at the house. You only get one civil assist.
If you are arrested on a domestic abuse or violence charge, you should expect to be in jail for at least 24 hours while you wait to see a judge. It may take longer if you are arrested on a Friday or Saturday or near a Holiday. The court will not release you until you agree to abide by the mandatory protection order. You will get paperwork of these conditions and it sometimes will conflict. Err on the side of following the most restrictive conditions to avoid bond revocation and new charges. No matter what the alleged victim says or texts or emails to you, you must follow the Court’s Mandatory Protection Order until and unless it is modified. Do not trust the AV not to call the police and report you if you come over. The best way to screw up a good domestic violence case is to violate the protection order.