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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Defending & Strengthening Protective Orders

November 05, 2016

NCVLI partnered with the Rocky Mountain Victim Law Center (RMVLC) on a critical issue moving through Colorado courts.  In the case, a trial court ruled that a defendant who is charged with violating a protective order could raise as an affirmative defense - consent.  This means that a defendant can argue that he couldn’t be found guilty of violating a protective order if the victim–the person protected by the order–“consented” to the contact. This decision reflected no understanding of the dynamics of domestic violence or the public policy determinations underpinning the protective order statutes, which readily allow a victim to return to court to modify the order if they choose to “consent.”  Fortunately, the 7th Judicial District Attorney’s Office decided to appeal the decision and invited RMVLC and other victim groups to submit an amicus brief.  RMVLC drafted an amicus curiae brief arguing that the trail court erred in holding that consent is a defense to a charge of violating a protective order because, although a protected party may request that the court modify the protective order, only the court can modify the terms of the order or render it unenforceable, and that courts from many other states have so concluded, soundly rejecting the “consent” defense. Amicus further argued that the lower court’s ruling violated public policy and undermined clear legislative intent to provide a protective remedy to victims of domestic violence, as it, among other things, will serve to encourage perpetrators to continue abusing and harassing their victims by obtaining “consent” to violate the terms of the protective order. NCVLI was pleased to provide support to the amazing efforts of the RMVLC team.  The appeal is pending.