Colorado’s Stalking Statute

Stalking is a criminal offense in Colorado, set forth in Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-3-601.  In that provision, the Colorado General Assembly has made some important findings regarding stalking. In a legislative declaration, the assembly found that stalking is a serious problem, both in the State of Colorado and nationwide. They found that although stalking often involves persons who have had an intimate relationship with one another, that it can also involve persons who have little or no past relationship.

The Assembly found that 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, they found that 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.

Additionally, they declared that a stalker may also develop jealousy and animosity towards 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. They found that because stalking involves highly inappropriate intensity, persistence, and possessiveness, it entails great unpredictability and creates great stress and fear for the victim.

Finally, the Assembly found that 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.

According to the Assembly, the goal of this legislative declaration was to recognize the seriousness posed by stalking with the goal of encouraging and authorizing effective intervention before stalking can escalate into behavior that has even more serious consequences.

So, what does this all mean?

From a potential victim’s perspective, it means that Colorado takes allegations of stalking quite serious and is taking preventative measures in hopes of stopping instances of stalking before they escalate into behavior that has even worse consequences.

However, from another perspective, this heightened emphasis on the serious of stalking and crack down on alleged stalkers will mean that more people could potentially be accused and charged with stalking than in the past, and that the accused could be treated more harshly under the law. This emphasis by the Assembly could even lead to more false accusations of stalking, and more instances where behavior that does not reach the level of stalking is treated as though it did.

In Colorado, a first offense of stalking is a class 5 felony, with a second or subsequent offense being a class 4 felony. A class 5 felony in Colorado can carry with it a prison sentence of one to three years and a fine of $1,000-$100,000. Class 4 felonies are punishable by two to six years imprisonment and a fine of $2,000-$500,000.  These ranges can be higher if there are any aggravating circumstances.

In short, The State of Colorado takes stalking seriously, and the prison sentences and fines associated with the crime are substantial. If you have been accused of stalking, it is in your best interest to obtain legal representation as soon as possible. Call us today for a free consultation.

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