If you are facing stalking charges in Colorado, we’ve prepared a list of things to do and not to do moving forward. Also, we’ll discuss potential defense strategies you may be able to use with the help of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer.
Let’s begin with what constitutes stalking under the laws of our state.
The Three Classifications of Stalking in Colorado
Stalking behaviors typically fall into these categories:
- Following an individual
- Showing up or driving by an individual’s residence, school, or workplace
- Placing a GPS device on an individual’s vehicle to track them
- Secretly recording an individual’s behavior through photographs or video
- Sending unsolicited emails, letters, or gifts
- Tracking an individual through phone, computer, or social networks
- Using internet searches, public records, private investigations, and personal interviews to gather information about an individual
- Making threats of harm to an individual
- Causing damage to an individual’s belongings or property
In Colorado, stalking is considered an “extraordinary risk crime.” This means a conviction will result in longer sentencing and harsher penalties than other crimes in the same classification.
Stalking can be committed in three different ways. The first way is making a credible threat to an individual and then repeatedly contacting, following, or surveilling that individual, a family member of the individual, or a person with whom the individual has a continuing relationship, like a friend or roommate.
A credible threat is defined by the law as a threat that provokes a reasonable fear for the safety of the individual or their immediate family. The threat can be expressed by various types of conduct. A verbal threat does not need to exist for a charge to be filed.
The second way stalking can be committed is if someone makes a credible threat to an individual and then repeatedly contacts the individual or the individual’s immediate family.
The third method of stalking under Colorado law is if someone repeatedly contacts, follows, or surveils an individual in a manner that could causes reasonable distress, and in fact does cause severe distress to the individual or the individual’s immediate family members.
What to Do and What Not to Do When Facing Stalking Charges
First, you need to contact an attorney so a solid defense to your charges can be built as soon as possible. Do not speak with law enforcement officers or investigators unless your lawyer is present.
You will need to fully disclose all information about the case with your attorney, including the relationship you have with the alleged victim. If a protective order has been issued against you, you will need to discuss the details of that situation with your lawyer as well.
Let your attorney guide you in what should and should not be shared with investigators. Even if you are certain the evidence proves you are not guilty, you must trust that an experienced lawyer can protect your rights by handling the information on your behalf.
It’s crucial that you have absolutely no contact with the alleged victim during the case’s investigation. Contact can compromise the case and jeopardize your chances for finding a viable defense.
Penalties for Stalking in Colorado
If you are convicted on stalking charges, a first offense will result in a class 5 felony charge, subject to one to four years in prison. A second offense will result in a class 4 felony charge, which will result in a two- to eight-year prison sentence.
Felony charges should always be taken seriously. A felony conviction can have a lifelong impact on your freedoms, your ability to find employment, and your potential for securing loans. It’s essential that you talk with a skilled Denver criminal defense attorney who can work to get your charges reduced or dropped.
Defenses to Denver Stalking Charges
These are the most common strategies for defending a stalking charge:
- Lack of sufficient evidence: no support of credible threats being made
- Lack of knowledge: the defendant did not know the individual would be in the area
- Lack of reasonableness: the alleged victim’s complaints are unreasonable
- False accusations: the alleged victim fabricated the charges
- Mistaken identification: you were mistaken for the actual offender
Since a stalking conviction has such serious penalties, you must consult with an experienced attorney who has successfully handled other Colorado stalking cases. A Denver criminal lawyer will know the defenses most likely to work in your unique case.
Call today for a free, no-obligation case review. We will work hard to protect your rights and your reputation.
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.