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Colorado’s long-arm statute cited in domestic violence case

Colorado orders of protection issued in domestic violence cases are far from trivial things that can be considered casually by individuals subjected to their terms and conditions. We note on our Denver criminal defense website at Shazam Kianpour & Associates that if you are served such an order, “you must follow it to the letter or you will be arrested and criminally charged for the violation.”

Colorado courts pay exacting attention to claims of domestic violence, with their evaluation of evidence and ultimate rulings being highly case-specific and tailored to singular fact patterns that vary significantly from matter to matter.

One recent case that has garnered considerable media attention involves domestic violence allegations in a relationship between a couple living in different states. The husband resides in New Jersey. The wife and the couple’s daughter moved to Colorado in 2016, with the wife doing so for the expressly stated reason of escaping violence routinely meted out by her spouse.

The husband has persisted in routinely contacting his wife from afar by phone. She sought a protection order from a Colorado court, which found her presented evidence of abuse credible and granted her request. The court invoked Colorado’s so-called long-arm statute, stating that Colorado had continuing jurisdiction over the husband notwithstanding his New Jersey residence, given his demonstrated history of violence.

The husband/father appealed that decision, and won, with a Colorado appellate court reversing the lower tribunal’s finding of jurisdiction over the defendant.

That didn’t settle the matter. What ultimately did was the recent weighing in on the case by the Colorado Supreme Court. Justices of the state’s highest court unanimously concluded that long-arm jurisdiction was appropriate in the case and sent the matter back to the court of first instance for reconsideration.

A central takeaway from the case is that Colorado courts have plenary powers to exercise legal control over individuals living outside the state in domestic violence matters.

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