A Stalking Conviction Can Follow You Forever. You Need A Strong Defense Against Stalking Charges Today.
It is possible to prepare and assert a strong defense against stalking charges in Colorado, but that doesn’t mean that it’s easy. Colorado’s stalking law contains many elements and nuances, each of which can be the basis of efforts to beat the charges or convince prosecutors to drop them entirely. And that’s important because a conviction for stalking will have a profound and lasting impact on your future.
Colorado Springs’ prosecutors take stalking charges seriously, as does Colorado law. That is because stalking is often a precursor to acts of actual violence. As the state legislature noted when passing Colorado’s felony criminal stalking law, also called “Vonnie’s Law,” it did so “with the goal of encouraging and authorizing effective intervention before stalking can escalate into behavior that has even more serious consequences.”
To deter stalkers from escalating into a more serious act of violence the penalties for a stalking conviction are severe. Even a first conviction for stalking can result in a prison sentence of between one and five years, a mandatory two-year parole period, and/or fines of up to $100,000.
If you find yourself in prosecutors’ crosshairs for stalking, you need to have an experienced stalking defense attorney on your side without delay.
The Elements of Criminal Stalking In Colorado
As defined in Colorado law, stalking is not about annoyance or rudeness. Anti-stalking laws don’t criminalize a one-time ill-advised comment. Stalking involves a repetition or pattern of conduct that is so disturbing, extreme, and threatening that the victim is reasonably and justifiably scared not only by the stalking but also about what might happen next.
Criminal stalking involves three key elements as set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-3-602:
A Credible Threat
In most cases, the first element Colorado Springs’ prosecutors must prove to obtain a felony stalking conviction is that the accused made a “credible threat” to the victim or a member of their immediate family.
The law defines a “credible threat” as statements, physical acts, or repeated conduct that “would cause a reasonable person to be in fear” for their own safety or that of an immediate family member (a spouse, parent, grandparent, sibling, or child) or of a person with whom they had or have a continuing relationship.
Colorado prosecutors cannot bring charges for stalking against an individual based upon a single, isolated occurrence. “Repeated” conduct is an essential element of the crime, and that requires more than one event.
Specifically, conduct in connection with a credible threat that can constitute felony criminal stalking includes:
- Repeatedly following, approaching, contacting, or placing under surveillance the victim, a member of their immediate family, or someone with whom they have or had a continuing relationship; or
- Repeatedly making any form of communication with the victim, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom they have or had had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues.
Serious Emotional Distress
Even if you don’t make a credible threat, your ongoing conduct can be threatening in and of itself and support a felony criminal stalking conviction.
You can face charges if you repeatedly follow, approach, contact, place under surveillance, or communicate in any way with the victim or a member of their immediate family “in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress” and does, in fact, cause serious emotional distress to that person, a member of their immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or had a continuing relationship.
Building a Defense Against Stalking Charges
To obtain a stalking conviction, Colorado Springs’ prosecutors must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed all of the elements of the crime set forth above. That means your criminal defense attorney can position you for an acquittal by effectively challenging the government’s proof (or lack thereof) as to specific aspects of criminal stalking as defined in the law.
Your criminal defense attorney can build your defense against stalking charges by asserting that:
- You did not actually threaten anyone
- Your comment not a “credible threat” – that is, the comment was clearly exaggerated, unrealistic, and not serious (i.e., “take that last donut from the breakroom and I will kill you”)
- The alleged victim did not suffer any serious emotional distress as a result of your acts or comments
- You contacted the alleged victim only once, which does not qualify as “repeated” conduct
Need an Aggressive Defense Against Stalking and Harassment Charges in Colorado Springs?
Given the harsh consequences of a criminal stalking conviction in Colorado, it is imperative that you take quick action to protect your freedom and future if prosecutors believe you committed such acts. As experienced and aggressive Colorado Springs harassment lawyers, James Newby Law can prepare the strongest possible defense against stalking charges to give you the best chance of putting the ordeal behind you.