Crimes Against the Person
In the State of Colorado, stalking is a felony that involves repeated behavior that causes someone to fear for their safety or become distressed. As a complex legal matter, it involves more than bothering someone on a couple of occasions.
If you live in Colorado and you're facing accusations of stalking, you're dealing with a complex criminal legal matter that has severe consequences. Seek legal assistance now by contacting us for a free case evaluation at (719) 264-9858.What Defines Stalking in Colorado?
In CO, a successful stalking conviction must satisfy the following criteria:
- A person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly through another person, the person knowingly:
- (a) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a member of that person's immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship; or
- (b) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a member of that person's immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues; or
- (c) Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a member of that person's immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person's immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress. For purposes of this paragraph a victim need not show that he or she received professional treatment or counseling to show that he or she suffered serious emotional distress.
It's important to understand that "credible threat" isn't just a vague term that can be used against you. In CO, it means you have engaged in a repeated action that would make a reasonable person fear for their safety – for example, repeatedly threatening to cause physical harm. If a reasonable person wouldn't feel threatened by the action or statement, then a credible threat hasn't been made.
A credible threat doesn't need to be made in person in order for it to be credible. It can also be made via:
- Phone calls and text messages
- Electronic communication, such as email and messages via social media
- Gestures and actions
- Any other type of communication that can reasonably be understood
The State of Colorado defines immediate family members as the following individuals:
So a cousin or aunt, for example, doesn't fall into the immediate family member category.Examples of Stalking Behavior
Sometimes the nature of stalking isn't clear, but it can include the following behaviors:
- Repeated attempts at communication, despite receiving a request to cease said communication
- Following an individual physically or turning up to places where that individual is known to spend a lot of time
- Using a GPS device to track a person or their vehicle, without their knowledge
- Sending unsolicited gifts
- Using recording devices, such as videos, cameras, and audio devices, to record a person's movements and activities without their permission
- Making threats of harm to an individual repeatedly
- Damaging an individual's property repeatedly, with the aim of causing distress
Stalking is classed as a class 5 penalty for a first-time offense, or a class 4 penalty if it's a first-time offense and a restraining order is already in place. Additionally, you'll face a class 4 penalty if you are prosecuted for a subsequent offense within seven years of your last stalking conviction.
Class 5 felonies can result in prison sentences and fines that fall within the following ranges:
- Between 12 months and five years in prison
- A fine between $1000 and $100,000
- A mandatory two-year parole period
If you're prosecuted for a class 4 penalty, you may face the following fines and prison sentences:
- Two to 10 years in prison
- A mandatory three-year parole period
- A fine between $2000 and $500,000
In Colorado, stalking is classed as an "extraordinary risk crime." Because of this, a judge can increase the maximum sentence by two years.When Can a Stalking Offense Be Charged as Domestic Violence?
Stalking can be classed as a charge of domestic violence when it concerns someone who is an intimate partner. This can include a spouse or someone who is a girlfriend or boyfriend of the person being accused of stalking.
If the prosecutor dealing with the case can establish that the accused has a romantic relationship with the proposed victim, then they can escalate it to domestic violence under Colorado law. As a result, the accused may face a more severe punishment than if the offense remains as stalking only.Possible Acts of Defense for Stalking
Facing a charge of stalking is an anxiety-inducing process. By accessing legal advice and hiring an attorney with experience in this field, you may be able to avoid a lengthy prison sentence and hefty fine.Knowledge of the Predatory Behavior
Stalking isn't simply comprised of running into one person in several locations and that person feeling uncomfortable about the event. The prosecution must demonstrate that you were knowingly and repeatedly harassing the proposed victim. Your defense attorney can focus on the accidental nature of any encounters you had with the person accusing you of being a stalker.Flaws in the Prosecution's Case
As with any potential criminal conviction, seeking out flaws in the prosecution's case could secure your freedom. For example, your attorney may highlight that a witness isn't particularly reliable. They will also examine whether any forensic evidence is strong. Additionally, failing to address the correct administrative processes can result in a case being discharged from court. With a thorough approach, your attorney may discover legal flaws that secure your freedom.First Amendment Rights
The first amendment secures your right to freedom of speech and freedom to access the court system. It may be possible to view the repeated filing of a criminal lawsuit as a harassing communication, yet the first amendment secures a person's right to do so. If such an approach remains reasonable under your constitutional rights, other forms of communication may be seen as reasonable also.Dubious Evidence
Sometimes the evidence a prosecutor gathers is dubious. For example, you may have taken photos with harmless intentions, but the proposed victim is suggesting that those photos were taken without their permission and with the aim of stalking. By examining evidence closely, it's sometimes possible to request that it is discounted.
If you're facing a stalking charge and you want to ensure you secure your freedom, you need a defense attorney. Contact Patterson Weaver Law by calling or texting (719) 264-9858.
While stalking is a serious offense in the State of Colorado, securing a successful conviction isn't always easy. As the maximum penalties can result in 10 years in prison and a $200,000 fine, mounting a strong defense is in your interests. With the right legal acumen and a thorough investigative process, the attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law can reveal flaws in the prosecution's case. To begin mounting your defense, call or text (719) 264-9858.