Cyberstalking and Cyberbullying: What Are Online Harassment Charges in Colorado Springs?

by | Apr 8, 2024 | Assault & Harassment Defense

What You Do Online Can Have Serious Real-Life Consequences

Harassment, stalking, and bullying on the internet can be just as hurtful, terrifying, or harmful as such acts are “in real life,” which is why Colorado Springs prosecutors aggressively pursue convictions for online harassment charges.

If you believe that the words you type on a keyboard, emails or texts you send, posts you put on social media, or other online activity you direct at another person are not a big deal and cannot result in severe consequences, you are sadly mistaken. Upon conviction, the penalties imposed for online harassment charges are severe, reflecting how seriously Colorado law treats these crimes.

What You’ll Learn In This Post:

  • Given the often tragic results of online harassment, Colorado prosecutors aggressively pursue charges of cyberstalking and cyberbullying, and Colorado law imposes harsh penalties for such conduct.
  • A wide range of online activity can lead to online harassment charges, including harassing or threatening emails, texts, and social media posts, spreading rumors, revenge porn, and sending obscene materials.
  • Conviction for online harassment can lead to jail time and fines, and the penalties are even more severe for harassment based on race, religion, sexual orientation, disability, and similar characteristics.

Table of Contents:

What You Do Online Can Have Serious Real-Life Consequences

What You’ll Learn In This Post

Tragic Outcomes Lead to Harsh Consequences

Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking Equal Criminal Harassment in Colorado

Penalties Upon Conviction For Online Harassment Charges

Take Online Harassment Charges As Seriously As Colorado Springs Prosecutors Do

James - take online harassment charges as seriously as prosecutors do

Tragic Outcomes Lead To Harsh Consequences

Colorado, like most states, has taken an unforgiving approach to cyberstalking and cyberbullying due to the extent of the problem and the often tragic results that follow, especially for young people.

According to the Cyberbullying Research Center, approximately 55% of students have been the targets of cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes, including 27% who said they were victims of cyberbullying in the past 30 days. This conduct can range from name-calling to the spreading of false rumors to the receipt of explicit images to direct or implied threats of physical harm.

Such conduct is, of course, not limited to teens. Adults are often the victims of relentless online harassment by former romantic partners and others.

Related: Defense Against Stalking Charges In Colorado

Indeed, cyberstalking and cyberbullying sometimes do escalate into actual acts of violence by the stalker/bully. But equally troubling are the frequent stories of victims, often teens, who take their own lives after experiencing the ongoing trauma of being targeted online.

Common actions that can result in online harassment charges include:

  • Sending unsolicited and threatening emails.
  • Encouraging others to send unsolicited and/or threatening emails to the victim or to overwhelm the victim with email messages.
  • Sending viruses by email (electronic sabotage).
  • Spreading rumors.
  • Making defamatory comments online about the victim.
  • Impersonating the victim online.
  • Harassing the victim during a live chat.
  • Leaving abusive messages online, including social media sites.
  • Sending the victim pornography or other obscene material that is knowingly offensive.
  • Intentionally revealing a person’s private information online without obtaining their consent (also known as “doxxing”).
  • “Revenge Porn.”

Cyberbullying and Cyberstalking Equal Criminal Harassment In Colorado

A provision of Colorado’s general criminal harassment law specifically addresses cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and other forms of online harassment. That provision, C.R.S.18-9-111(1)(e) is also known as “Kiana Arellano’s Law,” named for a 14-year-old Colorado high school sophomore and cheerleader who attempted suicide in 2013 after being cyberbullied by classmates.

That law provides that a person can face online harassment charges if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, they:

  • Engage in communication with someone directly or indirectly, or use language towards another person, anonymously or otherwise, via phone, phone network, data network, SMS, instant message, computer, computer network or system, or any other digital interactive medium with the intention to distress or threaten physical harm or property damage.
  • Communicate remarks, suggestions, requests, or proposals that are vulgar via phone, computer, computer network, computer system, or any other digital interactive platform.
  • Persistently insult, provoke, challenge or use offensive coarse language towards another person in a way that could incite a violent or disorderly reaction.

For online harassment to qualify as obscene, it must involve “an explicit and offensive description of ultimate sexual acts or enticement to engage in ultimate sexual acts, irrespective of whether these ultimate sexual acts are considered normal or deviant, real or simulated.”

Learn More: How To Win A Criminal Harassment Case in Colorado

James - take online harassment charges as seriously as prosecutors do

Penalties Upon Conviction For Online Harassment Charges

In most cases, cyberstalking, cyberbullying, and other online harassment charges under “Kiana Arellano’s Law” are class 2 misdemeanors. An individual convicted of a class 2 misdemeanor for online harassment faces possible penalties that include up to 120 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $750.

In some cases, however, online harassment charges can be even more severe, resulting in even harsher consequences. Prosecutors will charge a person with class 1 misdemeanor online harassment if the individual intended to intimidate or harass someone else because of that person’s actual or perceived:

  • Race
  • Color
  • Ancestry
  • National origin
  • Religion
  • Physical or mental disability
  • Sexual orientation

A person convicted of class 1 criminal harassment faces up to a $1,000 fine and a year in county jail.

Take Online Harassment Charges As Seriously As Colorado Springs Prosecutors Do

Given the severe consequences of an online harassment conviction, hiring an experienced Colorado Springs criminal harassment lawyer as soon as possible should be your highest priority if you face such charges.

Colorado Springs expert criminal defense lawyers at James Newby Law use the knowledge and insight received as former prosecutors to tenaciously fight for the rights of individuals facing criminal harassment charges in El Paso, Teller, and Pueblo Counties.

Schedule your free, confidential initial consultation today to put the former prosecutor advantage to work for you.

James Newby

James Newby

James Newby is a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs and the managing attorney of the criminal justice law firm James Newby Law. James got into law because of a deep-rooted passion for helping good people that may have made a poor choice that could have lasting consequences.