The Denver Post
Stephanie Drobny’s husband repeatedly beat, raped and threatened to kill her, and he molested the couple’s now 9-year-old daughter.
Since he was sentenced to 16 years in a Colorado prison, a court order has prevented him from having any contact with Drobny.
But because state law limits no-contact orders to victims of domestic violence, the man can still write his daughter from behind bars.
A House-passed proposal scheduled for debate on the Senate floor today would allow judges to issue no-contact orders in cases involving nearly three dozen crimes listed in the Colorado Victim Rights Act, which covers everything from murder to careless driving.
Drobny said letters, calls or gifts allow offenders to revictimize the people they’ve hurt.
“It’s basically saying, ‘I know where you live. I know how to get you,’ ” said Drobny, 31. “All we’re trying to do is close that gap so it’s not just the mommy that has the restraining order, but it’s also the kids or the rape victim.”
Her daughter’s name and that of Drobny’s former husband are being withheld to protect the child’s identity and whereabouts.
Criminal defense attorneys remain wary of the proposed House Bill 1267, saying that some prosecutors abuse the limited power they have now in domestic-violence cases.
They ask for no-contact orders even in first offenses, when the victims don’t want them, when it could force an offender out of the home or in nonviolent cases like a yelling match gone out of hand, said Maureen Cain, lobbyist for the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar.
“Prosecutors say they need this power because victims do not know what is good for them or they are afraid to ask for the no-contact order. My experience is that this is sometimes true, but more often than not, victims know what they want and are capable of asking for it,” Cain said. “(We have) absolutely no problem with any protection order when requested by the victim or even any witness.”
Any alleged offender is immediately warned in court that they must not intimidate, harass or retaliate against any alleged victims or witnesses.
That order stays in place until they’re acquitted or until they’ve served their sentence.
If HB 1267 passes, judges will also immediately be able to warn the accused to have no contact with victims and will be able to prohibit drinking, firearm possession and anything else that might help protect the victim.
Those are the same expanded protections available in domestic-violence cases.
“There’s a hole in the law right now,” said Weld County District Attorney Ken Buck. “When you draft a law in the abstract, it’s hard to figure out how it will be applied. Now we know.”
Read more: Colorado Senate considers bill to expand no-contact orders – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_17920977#ixzz1KXfty6Cu