Colorado has a history of aggressively protecting domestic violence victims. From mandatory overnight holding to the serious consequences after a conviction, these laws are meant to crack down on this type of crime.
Earlier this month, Colorado signed another domestic violence law called “No Bail for Stalking and Domestic Violence Offenders.” The name speaks for itself. While Colorado had already denied bail to individuals who have been convicted of a few specific crimes, stalking and domestic violence weren’t on the list until now.
Why did lawmakers add them to that list? Because of Glen Galloway.
The Sad Story of Glen Galloway and Janice Nam
Under the old rules, Galloway was granted bail in May 2016. He had been convicted of stalking his ex-girlfriend, Janice Nam, and she had a restraining order against him.
He was in between conviction and sentencing when he was granted bail. As soon as he was out, he cut off his ankle monitor, killed a man to steal his truck, and drove to Nam’s home. There, he allegedly killed Nam.
HB 17-1150 was drafted in Janice Nam’s memory. Pueblo representative Clarice Navarro and Senator Owen Hill sponsored the bill. It adds the following offenses to the list of crimes in which bail cannot be granted before a convicted offender’s sentencing or appeal:
- Second or subsequent conviction for stalking (that occurs within 7 years of previous stalking offense)
- Stalking while under a protection order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole
- Any act of domestic violence (if the individual has already been convicted of at least three domestic violence charges at separate dates)
The freedom taken away isn’t a small one, either – there is often six to eight weeks between conviction and sentencing.
Thankfully, the bill doesn’t extend to first-time domestic violence or stalking offenders. If you are facing your first conviction, you may be able to post bail before sentencing. Habitual offenders, however, now have one more thing that they need to worry about.
Already, those in Colorado who have been convicted of at least one domestic violence charge can be tried as a “habitual domestic violence offender.” Moreover, while a first offense is only a misdemeanor, multiple domestic violence convictions may lead to felony charges.
How to Avoid Running Afoul of this New Domestic Violence Law
Three words: don’t get convicted.
Remember, the law only prevents bail for those who have been convicted of their domestic violence charge and are awaiting sentencing. In other words, in order for this law to apply, you have to be convicted of an offense in the first place. So focus on beating your charges.
Domestic violence can be a tricky charge to defend against, but there are ways for alleged abusers to prove their innocence and get their charges dropped.
Take stalking, for example. In Colorado, stalking occurs if someone:
“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.”
If the offender acts in a way “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,” they may also be charged for stalking.
There are a lot of elements to this charge. You and your lawyer may be able to attack individual parts of the charge to make it harder to the prosecutor to prove you are guilty and get a conviction. Other defense strategies include:
- Lack of Proof: If the prosecution cannot prove that you made credible threats or acted in a way that caused reasonable serious emotional distress, a judge may drop the charges against you. You are innocent until proven guilty.
- Wrong Person: If you are accused of stalking, you may be able to show that it was actually someone else, and that you were falsely accused.
- Alibi: If you can provide an alibi for specific dates or times that are brought up, you will be able to discredit the prosecution or witnesses who are testifying against you.
Self-defense is also a common defense strategy in domestic violence cases, but may not be applicable to a stalking charge.
Learn more about Colorado’s strict laws against domestic violence laws, and how to defend yourself after an accusation, by getting in contact with a Colorado domestic violence lawyer.
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.