Stalking is a relatively new crime, and defining it can be complicated. Colorado passed its anti-stalking law, known as “Vonnie’s Law,” in 2012. In the state of Colorado, to be convicted of stalking, the defendant must be found by a jury, beyond a reasonable doubt, to have made credible threats to a victim with conduct constituting stalking such as following, approaching, surveilling, or repeatedly contacting a person or a person’s family members, partners, or previous partners via any method in relation to the threat, or that the person, by those same or similar actions, caused emotional distress to the victim or the victim’s family in a way that would be likely to cause emotional distress in any person.
To be charged in Colorado, the perpetrator must have been in the state at the time of the violation(s), though the victim could be elsewhere. If you have been charged with stalking, it is likely that you are confused about the charges and nervous about what the consequences might be. An experienced criminal defense attorney from our law firm can help you sort it all out, and will stand by you to defend yourself against the charges. Call our Colorado Springs office today at 719-496-2177 to let one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys explain your options.
What is the Difference Between Stalking and Harassment?
For harassment to become stalking, there needs to be both a pattern of repeated conduct and a pattern of escalation. For example, calling an ex-lover every day might be seen by the courts as harassment. Calling an ex-lover every day at first but 75 times a day if they don’t answer might be seen as stalking, as the behavior is repeated, is escalating, and would cause most people emotional distress.
For what is known as “credible threat” stalking, the perpetrator does not have to have made a direct threat to the victim. Actions that make the victim afraid for themselves or their family members or associates and that would be likely to make any reasonable person afraid for their safety can be considered a credible threat, even if no threat was made directly. The line between harassment and stalking can be fuzzy, and so can the line between reasonable behavior and harassment. You need a skilled criminal defense attorney on your side to help build a strong defense against these charges.
What Are the Possible Consequences of a Stalking Charge in Colorado?
Stalking is a felony in Colorado and is also considered an “extraordinary risk” crime. This means that if convicted, you could spend a considerable amount of time behind bars. A first-time conviction for stalking in Colorado is a Class 5 felony and can result in 1-5 years in Colorado state prison, a mandatory two-year parole period, and/or fines of up to $100,000. If you are convicted a second time (or more), the charge moves to a Class 4 felony, punishable by 2-10 years in prison followed by mandatory three-year parole, and/or a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000. Stalking is also a Class 4 felony with the penalties listed above if the stalking happened in violation of any court order, including a protective order, even if it is the first offense.
Do I Need a Lawyer for My Stalking Case?
As you can see, the penalties for stalking are severe and can be life-altering. Vonnie’s Law, which governs stalking charges in Colorado, is vague on certain points and can be difficult to interpret. If you have been charged with stalking, your freedom and your future depend on building a strong defense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer from our law firm will bring all of their experience and knowledge to help you defend yourself against this serious charge. Reach out to our law firm today by calling 719-496-2177 for a free consultation. We are here to help.