Stalking: Not Just a Crime by Men

When people think of stalking, most of the time it conjures images of men hiding in bushes as they follow an unsuspecting woman who walks down a dark street.

But the truth is that stalking is a crime that can be perpetrated by anyone, including women – as one former Colorado Springs Police officer has proven. This officer was arrested and charged with stalking for following her estranged husband. Her husband is also a police officer, and she has been accused of stalking him when he became involved with a coworker.

Stalking is a serious crime, and it is more than simply following another person around or annoying them. Here is what you need to know about stalking in Colorado – and what penalties can be faced if you are convicted of this criminal activity.

Felony Stalking in Colorado

In the state of Colorado, there is a felony stalking statute that is commonly referred to as “Vonnie’s Law.” The goal of this statute is to encourage intervention in stalking behavior before it can escalate into a situation with very serious consequences for all parties involved.

Under the law, stalking isn’t about being rude or annoying – or even following someone once. What this law does do is criminalize patterns of conduct that are threatening, disturbing, and extreme to the point that the victim is scared about what could happen to them, on top of the stalking behavior toward them.

There are three elements to felony stalking in Colorado, which are:

Credible Threat

If a prosecutor wants to prove a person is stalking another, then the first hurdle they must overcome is establishing the behavior as a credible threat. That is to say: There were physical acts, statements, or repeated acts that would generally cause a person to fear for the safety of him/herself and others.

However, it is possible to be convicted of stalking without a credible threat if the conduct causes severe emotional distress to the victim.

Repeated Conduct

A prosecutor must also show that the behavior displayed by the person accused of stalking is repeated. A one-time occurrence isn’t considered stalking by the legal definition. The repeated acts can be in person or through electronic means, such as email.

Emotional Distress

The final element that must be demonstrated is emotional distress. This means that the ongoing conduct must be threatening by itself in order for it to be considered felony stalking.

Repeatedly approaching, following, communicating, or contacting someone or a member of their family in a way that would cause any reasonable person to suffer from emotional distress satisfies this element.

Colorado Springs Stalking Defense Lawyer

What Penalties Can Be Faced for Stalking?

If you are convicted of stalking for the first time, then it’s considered a Class 5 felony. That can send you to prison for up to three years and require you to pay penalties of as much as $100,000.

If you are convicted of stalking two or more times, then it’s a Class 4 felony. That is punishable by up to 6 years behind bars with three years of court-mandated parole after release. You may also be asked to pay fines of as much as $500,000.

If you are found guilty of stalking in direct violation of a court order, then it’s also a Class 4 felony.

Stalking is serious, which is why if you are accused of it, then you need an experienced lawyer on your side.



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.