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Under C.R.S. 18-1-1001, in every criminal case filed in Colorado, the judge is required to issue a Mandatory Protection Order (“MPO”) against the defendant at the first court appearance. The MPO contains a number of standard orders that will issue to ensure the safety of the named victim and certain witnesses.

The first standard order is that the defendant is ordered not to harass, molest, intimidate, retaliate against or tamper with the named victim or any witness named in the case.

The MPO is on a standard form issued by the State. The judge can enter any of the following additional orders simply by checking a box on the standard MPO form:

  1. that the defendant vacate or stay away from the home of the alleged victim  or witness and to stay away from any other location where the victim or witness is likely to be found;
  2. that the defendant have no contact with the named victim or witness and no communication either direct or indirect with the victim or witness;
  3. that the defendant shall not possess or control any firearm or other weapons;
  4. that the defendant shall not possess or consume alcohol or use any controlled substances;

The judge can issue any other order that the judge deems appropriate to protect the safety of the named victim or witness.

If the charge against the defendant involves an underlying claim of domestic violence, the MPO has a box that the judge can check advising that the defendant is further bound by the Brady Handgun Law, which further prohibits the possession and/or use of a handgun or other firearm by one accused of domestic violence.

By law, if the accused is ordered not to possess firearms, the judge must require that the accused transfer or relinquish any firearms within 24 hours, unless in limited circumstances, the judge grants additional time.

If the charge against the defendant involves an underlying claim of sexual abuse or child abuse, there is a space on the MPO where the judge can write in that the defendant is not allowed to contact any child under the age of 18 years old. This order can even prohibit the defendant from having any contact with his own children. The MPO takes effect immediately.

An MPO remains in effect until the conclusion of the criminal case or until it is modified by the judge. In a domestic violence case, for example, the named victim can come to court and ask that the MPO be modified that he/she can have contact with a spouse or partner. The judge may but need not accept the required modification.

An MPO is routinely made a condition of the defendant’s bond. Therefore, if the defendant violates the MPO then the defendant will have violated his bail bond. The defendant can then be charged not only with a criminal violation of the MPO, but with the crime of violation of a bail bond condition. It is quite possible that these two charges can carry far more severe consequences and penalties than the original charge which landed the defendant in court in the first place.

While the defendant will likely be asked to sign a copy of the MPO in open court, the defendant need not sign the MPO for it to have full force in effect. A judge can discuss the terms of the MPO with the defendant and once the MPO is acknowledged, it carries the full force and weight as if it was signed.

Mandatory Protection Orders are serious business. Law Enforcement Officers are required to treat MPO’s very seriously. A Law Enforcement Officer is required to vigorously investigate claims violations of an MPO and to assist in the prosecution of any violations.

If you are charged with a crime, read the MPO that the Court issues fully. The back side of the MPO contains a number of important facts as to how the MPO operates and what the Court expects from the accused when the MPO issues. If you have any questions, Call Albani Law at (303) 753-0900. We can help.