Colorado Stalking Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer Writes About Being Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602

Colorado Stalking Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer Writes About Being Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602

By H. Michael Steinberg – Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer – Attorney

Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602
Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602

Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602 – If You Are Charged With Stalking In Colorado, understanding why you have been charged with this felony version of harassment 18-9-111 requires you study the law itself and how it is applied in the Colorado Criminal Courts.

There are two levels of Harassment under Colorado’s Domestic Violence Laws – The First is – forgive the term – “Basic” Harassment under 18-9-111:

A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she:

(a) Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person or subjects him to physical contact; or
(b) In a public place directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture to or at another person; or
(c) Follows a person in or about a public place; or

(e) Initiates communication with a person, anonymously or otherwise by telephone, computer, computer network, or computer system in a manner intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage, or makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal by telephone, computer, computer network, or computer system that is obscene; or
(f) Makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate conversation; or
(g) Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s home or private residence or other private property; or
(h) Repeatedly insults, taunts, challenges, or makes communications in offensively coarse language to, another in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response.

(1.5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “obscene” means a patently offensive description of ultimate sexual acts or solicitation to commit ultimate sexual acts, whether or not said ultimate sexual acts are normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or excretory functions.

So – Now To The First Step – What Actually IS The Enhanced Version Of The Harassment Crime In Colorado – Stalking?

If you are convicted on Stalking – Domestic Violence – in Colorado – you can expect to have one of the closest kinds of scrutiny there is while on probation.. The following quote gives you the actual thinking of a probation officer assigned to supervise persons convicted of stalking:

“Supervising stalkers requires a different mind set. You have to be willing to evaluate seemingly benign or even legal behavior to determine whether it is part of a pattern of stalking. This takes incredible patience, persistence, and attention to detail. It also requires a commanding court presence, the ability to interpret and contextualize seemingly minor behaviors as a pattern of stalking, and to reach the legal threshold for revocation of probation or parole. All of it is labor intensive and often frustrating, but necessary for victim safety.” — Nancy Halverson

To Understand The Crime Of Stalking You Must Become Familiar With At Least TWO Colorado Laws

First – Something Called “The Legislative Declaration” Behind The Colorado Stalking Laws

Here it is …

18-3-601. Legislative declaration

(1) The general assembly hereby finds and declares that:

(a) Stalking is a serious problem in this state and nationwide;

(b) Although stalking often involves persons who have had an intimate relationship with one another, it can also involve persons who have little or no past relationship;

(c) A stalker will often maintain strong, unshakable, and irrational emotional feelings for his or her victim and may likewise believe that the victim either returns these feelings of affection or will do so if the stalker is persistent enough. Further, the stalker often maintains this belief, despite a trivial or nonexistent basis for it and despite rejection, lack of reciprocation, efforts to restrict or avoid the stalker, and other facts that conflict with this belief.

(d) A stalker may also develop jealousy and animosity for persons who are in relationships with the victim, including family members, employers and co-workers, and friends, perceiving them as obstacles or as threats to the stalker’s own “relationship” with the victim;

(e) Because stalking involves highly inappropriate intensity, persistence, and possessiveness, it entails great unpredictability and creates great stress and fear for the victim;

(f) Stalking involves severe intrusions on the victim’s personal privacy and autonomy, with an immediate and long-lasting impact on quality of life as well as risks to security and safety of the victim and persons close to the victim, even in the absence of express threats of physical harm.

(2) The general assembly hereby recognizes the seriousness posed by stalking and adopts the provisions of this part 6 with the goal of encouraging and authorizing effective intervention before stalking can escalate into behavior that has even more serious consequences.

Second – You Must Become Familiar With The Elements of The Colorado Stalking Law – The Entire Statute – Known As Vonnie’s Law

18-3-602. Stalking – penalty – definitions – Vonnie’s law

{HMS – Stalking can be charged under multiple sections of the law]

(1) A person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly through another person, the person knowingly:

(a) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship:

or

(b) Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues;

or

(c) Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress. For purposes of this paragraph (c), a victim need not show that he or she received professional treatment or counseling to show that he or she suffered serious emotional distress.

(2) For the purposes of this part 6:

(a) Conduct “in connection with” a credible threat means acts that further, advance, promote, or have a continuity of purpose, and may occur before, during, or after the credible threat.

(b) “Credible threat” means a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person’s safety or the safety of his or her immediate family or of someone with whom the person has or has had a continuing relationship. The threat need not be directly expressed if the totality of the conduct would cause a reasonable person such fear.

(c) “Immediate family” includes the person’s spouse and the person’s parent, grandparent, sibling, or child.

(d) “Repeated” or “repeatedly” means on more than one occasion.

(3) A person who commits stalking:

(a) Commits a class 5 felony for a first offense except as otherwise provided in subsection (5) of this section;  

(b) Commits a class 4 felony for a second or subsequent offense, if the offense occurs within seven years after the date of a prior offense for which the person was convicted.

(4) Stalking is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified presumptive sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-401 (10).

(5) If, at the time of the offense, there was a temporary or permanent protection order, injunction, or condition of bond, probation, or parole or any other court order in effect against the person, prohibiting the behavior described in this section, the person commits a class 4 felony.

(6) Nothing in this section shall be construed to alter or diminish the inherent authority of the court to enforce its orders through civil or criminal contempt proceedings; however, before a criminal contempt proceeding is heard before the court, notice of the proceedings shall be provided to the district attorney for the judicial district of the court where the proceedings are to be heard and the district attorney for the judicial district in which the alleged act of criminal contempt occurred. The district attorney for either district shall be allowed to appear and argue for the imposition of contempt sanctions.

(7) A peace officer shall have a duty to respond as soon as reasonably possible to a report of stalking and to cooperate with the alleged victim in investigating the report.

(8) (a) When a person is arrested for an alleged violation of this section, the fixing of bail for the crime of stalking shall be done in accordance with section 16-4-103 (2) (d), C.R.S., and a protection order shall issue in accordance with section 18-1-1001(5).

(b) This subsection (8) shall be known and may be cited as “Vonnie’s law”.

(9) When a violation under this section is committed in connection with a violation of a court order, including but not limited to any protection order or any order that sets forth the conditions of a bond, any sentences imposed pursuant to this section and pursuant to section 18-6-803.5 or any sentence imposed in a contempt proceeding for violation of the court order shall be served consecutively and not concurrently.

Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602 – What Kind Of Emotional Distress Qualifies As Stalking Behavior – The “Reasonable Person”?

The experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer will target what is known as the “reasonable person standard” that is applied to the reaction of alleged victim to the behavior of the suspected stalker. The Colorado state legislature made certain to include an OBJECTIVE not SUBJECTIVE standard when the jury is instructed on the “reasonable person” standard.

The risk that the Colorado Stalking Law might be misapplied by the jury and certain “innocuous and totally innocent” statements could be asserted as causing emotional distress – is CUT OFF by making certain that the average person – the reasonable person – must be impacted by the behavior so that the suspect is not at the mercy of “an unusually sensitive alleged victim ‘listener.’”

The actual language of the law (above) applies this test to the definition of emotional distress: in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress..

But do not be misled – it does not take much to qualify as emotional distress. In one case the victim testified she “suspected” the defendant was stalking her for over a month, that she was concerned about constantly being watched, that she took alternate routes to her destinations, that she was uncomfortable and had stomach aches, that she had trouble sleeping and was anxious, and that she took a leave of absence from work to enter a safe house for her safety.

In another case, the evidence of emotional distress was met where a victim testified that the defendant’s behavior caused her to change her work schedule, take days off from work, and feel unsafe; she was nervous and had trouble sleeping; and she felt she was constantly being watched by defendant.

Serious emotional distress need not require professional therapeutic treatment or an actual  mental health breakdown.

Help In Understanding The Law As Regards The “Credible Threat” Provision of The Colorado Stalking Law?

Some appellate cases in Colorado help to flush out the credible threat issue – A credible threat does not need to be separate from the harassing behavior or verbal. Evidence that a defendant was only at the victim’s place of employment when the victim was there, that he  approached and made eye contact with her and found out where she went to church and attended that church.. Were all sufficient to establish a “credible threat”.

….And The Defendant Need Not Be Aware That His Conduct Is Causing Emotional Distress Harassment.

The crime of “emotional distress harassment by stalking” does NOT require that the stalker be aware that his or her conduct would cause serious emotional distress to a reasonable person. The alleged “stalker” can be completely oblivious to the reality of the emotional distress he or she is causing.

All 50 States Have Stalking Laws

Stalking is defined as a “pattern of behavior” directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel some form of fear. All 50 states have stalking laws, but the laws vary from state to state. The nation’s stalking laws can be found at this LINK.

Typical Stalking Behaviors That Will Trigger The Colorado Stalking Charge Under 18-3-602

The confusion underlying the charge of stalking is that the behaviors themselves – taken in isolation – may not be criminal, but taken together that may combine to create the stalking environment. Making phone calls, sending letters or gifts, and showing up at public places explicit or implicit threats may also qualify even though the latter may be conveyed without words.

The alleged victims of stalking argue that acts that appear meaningless or non-threatening to many people may be “terrifying” to them.. Be on guard that the alleged victims of stalking will claims that even leaving a rose left on the doorstep—may indicate to a victim that her offender has discovered where she lives.

District Attorneys and other law enforcement officials look to the “context” of the act to find an act or acts of stalking.

How Colorado Law Enforcement Gathers “Evidence” of Stalking

In compiling the kind of evidence necessary to file a charge of Stalking in Colorado – law enforcement will turn to certain evidence such as:

  • Reviewing the suspect’s entire criminal history for ANY documented evidence of stalking.
  • Look for evidence unwanted phone calls, messages, letters, e-mails, unwanted gifts; following or spying; showing up in places frequented by the victim; or waiting for the victim. This includes the use of technology and the involvement of third parties in the stalking behaviors.
  • Any evidence of a previous or current relationships between the offender and other significant others.
  • The suspects access to e-mail at home or work, his or her skill with technology.
  • Risk assessments of the suspect using so called “risk assessment tools.
  • Reviewing random police reports and other documents for patterns of abuse – asking:

– Is there evidence of stalking in prior arrest records?
– Is there more than one instance of abuse?
– Have “abusive tactics” escalated?
– Do the dates of abuse coincide with civil court actions such as dissolutions, child custody or           visitation issues?
– Are there instances of leaving/separation violence if there is a break up in the suspect’s past?
– What is the history of injuries?
– Are there any threats of future harm to the victim, third parties, or family members?

If You Are Convicted Of Stalking In Colorado – Be Prepared For The Highest Levels Of Probation Supervision Such As Intensive Supervision Probation – ISP

Colorado probation officers are instructed to apply the highest levels of probation supervision conditions and case plans to stalking cases.  What follows is a comprehensive list of what you may expect if you are convicted of some form of stalking crime in Colorado:

  1. Frequent field contacts with the offender and collateral contacts.
  2. Frequent and random checks for alcohol and drug use.
  3. Regular, unannounced searches of the offender’s person, premises, residence, vehicle, and any other area under the offender’s immediate control, as appropriate.
  4. Computers searches if the “stalker: used electronic means to obtain information on or harass the victim.
  5. Searches for property or photographs of the victim or any indications of a fixation with the victim.
  6. Electronic monitoring tools – GPS – Ankle Monitors LINKS to supervise offenders.
  7. Curfews.
  8. Daily reporting.
  9. Checks on any new intimate/dating partner “to determine if the offender has disclosed supervision status”.
  10. Unannounced home visits.
  11. Warrantless searches and seizures of all personal property including but not limited to computers, cell phones, and other technologies.
  12. The release of all aliases, screen names, Internet service provider (ISP) account information, cell-phone numbers, and other identifying data; report any new information in any of these areas.
  13. Prohibited use use of alcohol or drugs unless prescribed by a physician.
    Domestic Violence and Mental health assessment and any mandated treatment.
  14. Restrictions to stay away from indicated physical locations to avoid contact with the victim.
  15. No use or possession of firearms or other items deemed to be deadly weapons.
  16. Waiver of extradition.
  17. Waiver of confidentiality for the release of information to third-party intervention/treatment providers allowing disclosure of information to the probation officer.

Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: H. Michael Steinberg Email The Author A Denver Colorado Domestic Violence Criminal Defense Lawyer  – or call his office at 303-627-7777 during business hours – or call his cell if you cannot wait and need his immediate assistance – 720-227-7777.

If you are charged with A Colorado crime or you have questions about being Charged With Stalking In Colorado 18-3-601, 18-3-602, please call our office. The Law Offices of H. Michael Steinberg, in Denver, Colorado, provide criminal defense clients with effective, efficient, intelligent and strong legal advocacy. We can educate you and help you navigate the stressful and complex legal process related to your criminal defense issue.

H. Michael Steinberg, is a Denver, Colorado criminal defense lawyer with over 30 years of day to day courtroom H. Michael Steinberg - Over 30 Years Medallionexperience –  specializing in Colorado Criminal Law along the Front Range.  He will provide you with a free initial case consultation to evaluate your legal issues and to answer your questions with an honest assessment of your options.  Remember, it costs NOTHING to discuss your case.  Call now for an immediate free phone consultation.

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