Does Colorado Consider Stalking a Crime of Domestic Violence?

Does Colorado Consider Stalking a Crime of Domestic Violence?

Stalking is a serious crime that can lead to harsh penalties under the law, especially in Colorado. If you are found guilty of stalking and it has a domestic violence enhancement, then you could have a long legal battle in front of you.

What is stalking in Colorado? What penalties can you face? When is a domestic violence enhancement added? Read on to find out more about the crime of stalking in Colorado and how it ties in with domestic violence crimes, then how to best defend yourself against these types of charges.

What Is Stalking in Colorado?

Under Colorado law, stalking is a felony. It is defined as behavior that is predatory, involving more than simply bothering someone else.

Vonnie’s Law in Colorado requires two things to be met in order to charge someone with stalking. They have to first be a credible threat to another person and then also repeat the stalking behavior that puts another person in reasonable fear or emotional distress.

In the state, actions that are not considered stalking include:

  • Making a threat one time
  • Making a threat that isn’t credible
  • The threat was not against the person or their family or partner
  • Anyone else would reasonably not been distressed or frightened by the behavior
  • The person that accuses you of stalking was not actually in distress or frightened

The types of behavior that do line up with stalking, aside from credible threats made to another, are actions like repeatedly following, contacting, surveilling, or communicating with a person or their family or partner in a way that causes them emotional distress.

What Is a Credible Threat?

Credible threats are made in certain ways. They can be done in person or through:

  • Text messages
  • Phone calls
  • Email
  • Gestures
  • Social media
  • Cyberstalking
  • Actions
  • Typed or written letters

The stalking laws in Colorado apply to any victim, even if they’re a well-known public person or private citizen. The credible threats listed above as an element of stalking are illegal no matter where they happen, whether it be in a workplace or in private – at home or in public.

Colorado Springs Stalking Defense Lawyer

Penalties for Stalking in Colorado

Stalking is a felony in Colorado, because it is considered a crime of extraordinary risk. The level of felony depends on how many times someone has been previously convicted of stalking.

First Offense

Anyone convicted of stalking for the first time faces a Class 5 felony. The penalties for this level include:

  • Up to four years in prison with a mandatory parole period of two years after the release
  • As much as $100,000 in fines

Second Offense

If a person is convicted of stalking for a second time within seven years of their first conviction, then it’s considered a Class 4 felony. That is punishable by:

  • Up to eight years in prison with a mandatory parole period of three years
  • Fines for as much as $500,000

When Is Stalking Domestic Violence in Colorado?

Stalking can also carry with it a domestic violence enhancement for harassment if the stalking behaviors are perpetrated against a spouse or ex-spouse, anyone with whom you share a child, or someone with whom you’ve had or currently have a romantic relationship.

In addition to any penalties associated with stalking, domestic violence harassment is another misdemeanor charge that can lead to six additional months in jail. It also can subject the perpetrator to a protection order, which can lead to further penalties if it is violated.

If someone violates a protective order by stalking someone else, then it’s considered a Class 4 felony even if it’s a first offense. That can lead to up to eight years in prison and fines of as much as $500,000.

Defenses to Stalking

Proving stalking in court can be quite difficult, which is where the help of an experienced defense attorney comes into play. It’s possible that the victim simply misunderstood the intentions of the person accused of stalking.

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While the best defense for each case depends on individual circumstances and facts, the most common defenses used against allegations of stalking include:

  • No credible threat was made
  • The defendant was exaggerating in the moment for effect
  • The threat made was too elaborate for any reasonable person to take as genuine
  • There was no serious emotional distress suffered by the victim
  • The victim was not contacted multiple times, but only once, which doesn’t qualify as a behavior associated with stalking
  • The victim was contacted more than once, but there was no threat issued

If you are found guilty of stalking, it can impact so many areas of your life. So make sure if you are charged, you mount the best defense possible.

 

About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.