Under Colorado law, there are several different acts that constitute the crime of Stalking. They include:
- Threatening someone, and then following, approaching, contacting or surveilling the person, a member of their family, or someone they are in a relationship with.
- Threatening someone, and then repeatedly communicating with the person, a member of their family, or someone the person is in a relationship with.
- Following, approaching, surveilling or communicating with a person, a member of their family, or someone the person is in a relationship with in a manner that would make a reasonable person experience emotional distress, and in fact does cause such emotional distress.
The threat involved does not have to be directly stated or expressed by the offender. The legal test in Colorado is the “reasonable person” standard. This means that the jury would have to decide whether a reasonable person in the victim’s shoes would experience fear as a result of the defendant’s conduct as a whole – regardless of whether a threat has been directly stated. Interestingly, it is not necessary that the defendant knows that his conduct is likely to cause a reasonable person to experience fear or emotional distress.
A person can be found guilty of Stalking in Colorado for having attached an electronic tracking device to the victim’s vehicle or any other property that would allow the victim’s whereabouts to be tracked.
Stalking is a class 5 felony if it is a first offense, and if, at the time of the offense, the defendant was not being restrained by a protection order, injunction, bond condition, probation condition, parole condition, or any other court order that prohibited contact with the victim in the case. A class 5 felony normally carries a maximum sentence of 3 years, but because Stalking is considered to be an “Extraordinary Risk Crime” in Colorado, the maximum sentence is 4 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Stalking increases in seriousness to a class 4 felony in the event that it is a second offense, occurring within 7 years of the date of the first offense. It also becomes elevated to a class 4 felony if the defendant was being restrained by a protection order or any other court order at the time the offense was committed.
Colorado courts treat those charged and convicted of Stalking harshly. The justice system has become more and more focused on preventing acts of domestic violence, and violent crimes generally. As a result, judges and district attorneys view Stalking charges as an opportunity to intervene in dangerous situations that appear likely to lead to violence if there is no judicial intervention. This can lead to very harsh sentences for Stalking offenders. It is especially important to have a competent criminal defense attorney by your side if you are facing a charge of this sort. Please call our office for a consultation immediately, and certainly before you speak to the police or investigators.