In the State of Colorado, stalking is a felony that involves repeated behavior that causes another person to fear for their safety or the safety of others. If you live in Colorado and you are facing accusations of stalking, be aware that you are dealing with a complex criminal matter that carries severe consequences. A stalking conviction can carry jail time even for a first offense. You should contact one of the criminal defense attorneys at Peakstone Law Group, LLC at (719) 264-9858 to schedule your free consultation today or fill out our online form.
How is Stalking defined in Colorado Springs?
In Colorado, the crime of stalking is set forth in C.R.S. 18-3-602, otherwise known as Vonnie’s Law in honor of Vonnie Flores, a teaching assistant who was shot and killed by a man that had been stalking her for years, despite the fact that there was a protection order in place against him.
As set forth in the statute, 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 family member, 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.
As the statute makes clear, there are essentially two sets of facts that can give rise to a stalking charge: (1) making a credible threat; and (2) repeated actions or communications that cause serious emotional distress. Note that there is no “intent” component to this charge, meaning that whether or not you meant to cause someone emotional distress is immaterial; the only issue is whether or not they experienced serious emotional distress.
What Is a Credible Threat?
In Colorado, “credible threat” means you have engaged in repeated conduct that would make a reasonable person fear for their safety – for example, repeatedly threatening to cause bodily injury. It does not have to be a physical action. If a reasonable person wouldn’t feel threatened by the action or statement, then a credible threat hasn’t been made. While a single act may otherwise be considered misdemeanor harassment, numerous acts can cause someone to be charged with felony stalking instead.
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, or through emails and direct messages on internet social media sites. This course of conduct may also lead to charges of harassment and cyberstalking.
When Can a Stalking Offense Be Charged as Domestic Violence?
Stalking can be classed as a charge of domestic violence (“DV”) 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 stalking only.
Domestic violence is not an independent crime in Colorado but instead operates as a sentence enhancer which typically increases the punishment for any underlying offense. Considering the fact that Colorado is a mandatory arrest state, meaning that police must arrest anyone that they have probable cause to believe committed an act of domestic violence, it is especially important to consult with a criminal defense attorney immediately. In any case, in which DV charges are pending, a protection order will prohibit you from contacting, intimidating, or harassing any alleged victim. While the case is pending, you will also be required to surrender any firearms and ammunition in your possession, which can have far-reaching consequences if you are active duty military or involved in law enforcement that requires the use of a firearm. If you are convicted of a DV-related offense, you can lose your Second Amendment right to bear arms permanently. In order to protect those rights, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney that will fight for those rights that you value most.
What Are The Penalties For Stalking in Colorado Springs?
Stalking is a class 5 felony for a first offense, punishable by between 1 and 3 years in prison, a fine between $1,000 and $100,000, and a mandatory parole period of 2 years.
Stalking is a class 4 felony for a second offense (and any subsequent offense) if the offense occurs within 7 years after the date of a prior offense for which the person was convicted. A class 4 felony is punishable by between 2 and 6 years in prison, a fine between $2,000 and $500,000, and a mandatory parole period of 3 years.
If at the time of the offense, there was a temporary or permanent protection order, restraining order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole, or any other court order in effect against the person, prohibiting this type of behavior, the offense is a class 4 felony. Stalking is an extraordinary risk crime, subject to a modified presumptive sentencing range, which could potentially add years to any prison sentence (class 4 felonies add two years to the presumptive range, and class 5 felonies add one year).
Contact The Criminal Defense Lawyers at Peakstone Law Group
While stalking is a serious offense in the State of Colorado, securing a successful conviction isn’t always easy for a prosecutor. As a felony conviction for stalking can have penalties that result in years in prison and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines, mounting a strong defense is in your best interest. If you are facing a stalking charge and you want to ensure you secure your freedom, you need to speak with the criminal defense lawyers at Peakstone Law Group, LLC today to schedule an appointment. Contact us through our online form.