EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - When it comes to protecting domestic violence victims, El Paso County is behind the rest of the state. Our local district attorney says we need to make a change.
When someone gets arrested for domestic violence in Colorado, he or she can count on a restraining order for the entire trial process. But in El Paso County, the automatic 'no contact' order is only seven days. Some say, that's just not long enough.
"It puts victims at danger. There's just no ifs, ands, or buts about it," said 4th Judicial District Attorney Dan May.
"What happens is the minute a person is picked up, they're given a protection order, they're not allowed to have contact with the victim. That lasts for seven days," May said.
Then the order is dropped, unless the victim asks to make it longer. But it's a lengthy, complicated process, and the district attorney said it would be easier if it were automatic.
"The rest of the state has all determined by their judges that it should last for the duration of the case, that there's no contact. And that's the best that protects the victims. For whatever reason our judges have decided it's seven days. That seven days has become problematic," said May.
Problematic for vulnerable victims.
"It is one that you really are endangering lives," said May.
In some cases, May said the victim can't get to court in time to extend the order.
"Some of them just physically can't get to court in seven days depending on the injuries they received. They may still be in the hospital," he said.
11 News reached out to Judge William Bain, who will soon be our new district judge. He told us right now the magistrate looks over each case, and then decides the length of the 'no contact' order. They can choose to make it longer than seven days, depending on the case.
Judge Bain told us he has been talking with other local judges about their experiences. He also reached out to judges across the state to get their input.
He told 11 News he could make a decision as soon as the next month or so on whether to change our process. We'll keep you updated.
If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic violence, you can call a local crisis line at 719-633-3819. That line will lead you to a local non-profit called TESSA. They offer resources like temporary housing and they can help victims navigate through the legal process. Click here for TESSA's website.