Stalking is a serious problem.
Over 25 million Americans (18.3 million of them women) have experienced some form of stalking. Sadly, the internet, cell phones, and other digital forms of communication have made stalking even easier.
Moreover, while in-person stalking absolutely still occurs, many people who claim to be stalking victims don’t actually see their harassers. Instead, they hover at a distance, like a dark cloud on the horizon. Because their harassers do all of their stalking online – cyberstalking.
It is important to understand that even if there is never any physical contact of any kind between the stalker and the victim, cyberstalking is still a crime in Colorado. Those accused will face the serious penalties associated with stalking charges, and conviction can make life a lot harder. If you are accused, it is important to fight against these charges and work to prove your innocence.
Cyberstalking Charges and Penalties in Colorado
- Following a person, their family members, or someone they know in connection to credible threats
- Repeatedly engaging in any form of communication with a person or their family members in a way that would reasonably cause emotional distress
- Repeatedly following, trying to make contact with, or surveilling a person
While stalking may include physical presence, a person may also be charged with stalking for:
- Repeatedly sending explicit or inappropriate photos or messages
- Threatening a person through repeated Facebook messages
- Calling or texting family members and friends in a way that would reasonably cause emotional distress
Stalking is a class 5 felony in Colorado. If a defendant is found guilty, they may face up to three years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. Additionally, a judge may increase penalties if the defendant has previous stalking convictions or the crime put the victim at an “extraordinary risk.”
Victims may also ask for a protection order (restraining order) against the defendant. Stalking, unfortunately, may turn into cyberstalking due to physical restrictions from protection orders.
However, simply switching up the methods by which someone is harassed doesn’t make it any less of a crime – and it’s definitely a violation of the protection order.
If you are arrested for violating your protection order through cyberstalking, you may face class 4 felony charges. Penalties for a class 4 felony in Colorado include up to six years in prison and up to $500,000 in fines.
There Are Ways to Defend against Colorado Stalking Charges
Cyberstalking can often be hard to trace. There are apps and technologies available that stalkers can use to hide their real phone number or conceal their identity. If a stalker wants to call a victim
and have a different phone number appear on the victim’s phone, they have that capability.
Because of this, as law enforcement officials try and track down the identity of a stalker, they may stumble upon the wrong person. Whether you made a mistake you regret or law enforcement officials did by falsely accusing you of stalking, you have to fight back.
Talk to a defense lawyer about what strategy is most likely to help in your situation. Some of the most common defenses include:
Alibis may be not be the strongest evidence in a cyberstalking case. After all, you can send a text or a Facebook message from anywhere. However, if you can effectively argue that you were out of service and had no possible way to send messages at a certain time, you may be use this as a defense.
Your Relationship to the Victim
If the victim is someone you know, you may be able to use your current relationship as a defense. Locate past messages or conversations between you and the victim. If the language is wildly different than that sent by the stalker, the jury may be suspicious as to whether you sent the harassing messages.
Cyberstalking is often done in secret, but witnesses may be able to attest that they never saw you sending messages to the victim or ever heard you mentioning the victim.
Remember, these are just some of the ways that you can fight back against stalking charges. Build a defense strategy that is right for your case and you give yourself the best chance at avoiding the penalties of a felony conviction.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.