Our state takes domestic violence seriously, and a new law that has recently gone into effect shows just how serious Colorado is when it comes to domestic violence charges.
As of Wednesday, August 9, the No Bail for Stalking and Domestic Violence Offenders Act says bail will be denied to anyone convicted of habitual domestic violence or felony stalking in order to protect the alleged victims. Instead of being granted bail, the offender will have to remain in jail from the time of their conviction until they are sentenced.
Reports of domestic violence and stalking have increased throughout the state over the past decade. In 2014, there were 16,700 reports of domestic violence made to law enforcement officials. Last year, that number reached 18,000.
Though domestic violence numbers are on the rise in general, one particular case from Colorado Springs drove this new law into existence.
Janie Nam’s ex-boyfriend Glen Galloway was convicted of felony stalking and out on bail, awaiting his sentencing hearing. During this time, Galloway cut off his ankle monitor, killed a man in order to steal his truck, and later broke into Nam’s house, shooting her in the head and killing her.
The sponsor of the bill, Representative Clarice Navarro (R) Pueblo, said, “Right now, there’s a gap of six to eight weeks before sentencing after conviction, and unfortunately that was the gap and time period that Janice Nam lost her life… The convicted person has all this rage and anger and that’s the perfect time for them to act out and retaliate.”
Navarro decided to close that gap between conviction and sentencing by passing this law and denying bail. As for Galloway, the El Paso County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty – the first time they’ve asked for death in 10 years.
What Is Felony Stalking in Colorado?
One of the offenses this new law affects is stalking.
The Colorado statute says that a person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly through another person, the person knowingly:
- Makes a credible threat to another person and repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a family member, or someone they have a continuing relationship with; or
- Makes a credible threat to another person and repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a family member, or someone they have a continuing relationship with, regardless of whether they actually have a conversation; or
- Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a family member, or someone they have a continuing relationship with in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person to suffer serious emotional distress.
Stalking is a class 5 felony for a first offense, which is punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison. If the alleged offender had a court order against him at the time of the offense, that person will be charged with a class 4 felony, punishable by 2 to 6 years in prison.
If it is the offender’s second or subsequent offense, he will be charged with a class 4 felony.
What Is Habitual Domestic Violence?
Colorado law says that domestic violence is an act or threatened act of violence upon a person with whom the actor is or has been involved in an intimate relationship. An “intimate relationship” is defined as a relationship between spouses, former spouses, past or present unmarried couples, or persons who are both the parents of the same child regardless of whether the persons have been married or have lived together at any time.
So what is habitual domestic violence?
If a person commits a misdemeanor offense that includes an act of domestic violence and has been previously convicted of three or more prior offenses that included an act of domestic violence and that were separately brought and tried and arising out of separate criminal episodes, then that person can convicted as a habitual domestic violence offender, which is a class 5 felony.
How Does This New “No Bail” Law Affect Me?
If you are charged with stalking or domestic violence, this new law will affect you only after you’ve been convicted. That’s why it’s especially important to contact an experienced Colorado domestic violence defense attorney as soon as you’ve been charged. A skilled lawyer will be able to help you fight back and craft a defense strategy that aims for the best possible outcome. With a knowledgeable Colorado attorney on your side, you’ll have the best chance to beat your charges and put this stressful time behind you.
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.