In everyday life, we often hear people casually use the words “stalking” or “stalker.” For example, when Mom asks about a random photo, you posted on your Facebook account over a month ago and you ask her if she is “Facebook stalking you.” However, when you are directly accused of being an actual stalker, it is not a matter to take lightly or assume will disappear on its own. Getting arrested for stalking can be very sobering, especially when you were not stalking the individual alleging to be a victim. Stalking is, in fact, a severe offense in Colorado. Any victims of actual stalking deserve justice for the suffering and havoc generated. If you are in such a circumstance, consulting with a lawyer for harassment and stalking may be necessary.
Unfortunately, there are circumstances and occasions where individuals allege that they are being stalked disingenuously and portray themselves as victims. Although such incidents could stem from a wide range of motives and unsubstantiated grounds, they must still be taken seriously and addressed by a proficient Colorado stalking arrest attorney. Some of the reasons behind such divisive and dishonest actions include but are not limited to, spitefulness and envy, an individual looking for a way to weaponize the justice system against another person with whom they are in dispute, or someone harboring feelings of resentment, anger, rage, or jealousy. Whether the accuser is emotionally or mentally unstable or out for misplaced revenge, baseless allegations of stalking can be detrimental to one’s livelihood.
How is “stalking” defined under Colorado law?
A stalking charge in Colorado can quickly turn into actual charges, convictions, and heavy penalties, limiting an individual’s future and tarnishing their reputation. Prosecutors in Colorado view stalking as predatory behavior often indicative of future violent crimes and violent acts. The number of stalking allegations and convictions in Colorado has increased, and stalking laws and cases have become increasingly complex.
Colorado statutes define stalking as knowingly following, intimidating, or harassing someone and making a credible threat with intent to place that person in fear of death or serious bodily injury. Over the last decade, Colorado reconstructed its laws on stalking, (e.g., enacting “Vonnie’s Law” or Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-602).
Depending on the case’s specifics and the victim’s circumstances, stalking can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony.
The severity of a stalking charge depends on the following:
- Nature of stalking behavior
- Relationship or associations between the alleged perpetrator and the victim
- Impact of stalking on the victim
Misdemeanor stalking is typically charged when the stalking behavior is less severe and does not involve a significant level of threat or intimidation. In stalking misdemeanors, the perpetrator repeatedly harasses the victim, such as sending unwanted texts, constant emails, or making unwanted phone calls, without physically harming them or inducing worry about their safety.
Stalking is typically charged as a felony when it involves a significant level of threat or intimidation. If the perpetrator engages in harassing or threatening behavior patterns, the victim may fear for their safety or that of their friends and family.
It’s critical to note that the specific penalties for stalking crimes in Colorado depend on the circumstances of each case and the laws in effect at the time the offense occurred.
If you have been charged with stalking or are concerned about your legal rights and options in a stalking case, you should consult with a qualified criminal defense attorney who can advise you on the best course of action.
When faced with unfound stalking charges, it is critical to comprehend your rights and never brush off an accusation or procrastinate after an arrest. Get in touch with a Colorado criminal defense attorney immediately to begin a defense strategy evaluation.
Consequences of a Stalking Charge in Colorado
If charged as a misdemeanor, the maximum possible sentence is up to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000. If charged as a felony, the maximum possible sentence is up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. In either case, the judge may also order the defendant to pay what is known as “restitution” to the alleged victim for any damages or losses incurred by the stalking.
In addition to these criminal penalties, a conviction for stalking can also have other consequences. For example, you may be required to attend counseling or treatment, be subject to a restraining order or protective order, and be required to register as a sex offender if the stalking was motivated by sexual desire.
Again, all cases are unique, and specific consequences of a stalking conviction are related to the many facets of a case.
What fundamental elements must be proven for a stalking conviction to stick?
It is imperative to cite that in order to be convicted of stalking, the prosecution must prove several factors beyond a reasonable doubt. These components include:
- The accused willfully, maliciously, and repeatedly followed, harassed, or threatened the victim.
- The accused’s behavior or course of conduct caused a reasonable fear of safety or the safety of a family member.
- The accused had the intent to place the victim in reasonable fear.
Potential Defense Strategies for Stalking Charges in Colorado
The following is a list of defenses that could be utilized in cases involving allegations of stalking in their simplest terms:
- Lack of intent: The defense may argue that the defendant did not act with the intent to cause the victim to feel afraid or to cause emotional distress.
- Lack of course of conduct: The defense may argue that the defendant’s actions were not part of a pattern or series of events and therefore, do not constitute a course of conduct.
- Lack of causation: The defense may argue that the defendant’s actions did not result in fear or emotional distress.
- First Amendment rights: The defense may argue that the First Amendment right to freedom of speech and expression protects the defendant’s actions.
- False allegations: The defense may argue that the victim’s claims of stalking are false or exaggerated.
Stalking cases are usually highly complicated because, as described above, they often involve many subjective factors, such as a victim’s emotional state and a defendant’s intent. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand the legal points applied to your case and devise a defense strategy that considers these complexities.
In addition, your lawyer will investigate allegations against you and gather and evaluate evidence, which is vital to formulating a vigorous defense. In addition, they may negotiate with the prosecution (e.g., a plea agreement or charge reduction) by filing motions to suppress evidence or challenge the prosecution’s case, examining and cross-examining witnesses at trial, and helping you make informed decisions about your case. To understand the potential implications of a stalking charge and develop a solid defense strategy, contact an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney for a confidential consultation at 303-447-1400.