Harassment is one of the broadest charges an individual can face in Colorado, and it’s often used against someone when the police or the district attorney can’t find other criminal charges to pursue.
While many conflicts that result in harassment charges are minor, associated misdemeanor or felony convictions can have life-changing consequences. The Denver criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law have extensive experience in harassment cases, and we take harassment charges very seriously—even if they stem from a seemingly trivial event.
If you’re facing harassment charges in Colorado, call Wolf Law at 720-479-8574 or contact us online for a free consultation.
How Does Colorado Define Harassment?
Colorado’s revised statute defines harassment in broad strokes, but it does specify that the perpetrator’s intent must be to harass, annoy or alarm another person.
Once intent is established, harassment may apply to:
- Hitting, shoving, kicking, or other physical contact
- Obscene language or gestures directed at another in a public place
- Following another in a public place
- Repeated phone calls with no intention of conversation
- Engaging communication at inconvenient hours that interferes with the use and expected privacy of a person’s residence or private property
- Persistent insults, taunts, challenges, or coarse language that is likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response
Colorado’s harassment statute defines certain terms in more detail. For example, “obscene” is defined as “a patently offensive description of ultimate sexual acts or solicitation to commit ultimate sexual acts…” Whether or not the acts are real or simulated, and regardless of whether the stated acts come to fruition is irrelevant for harassment charges to be filed.
Digital Harassment: Kiana Arellano’s law
In 2015, Colorado state legislators approved House Bill 1072, also known as Kiana Arellano’s Law. The law is named after a Highlands Ranch teen who was the victim of frequent cyberbullying attacks. She attempted suicide and survived, but was left permanently disabled.
Kiana Arellano’s Law was added to the harassment statute because lawmakers agreed that cyberbullying could transform into criminal harassment. The law prohibits obscene language, or language intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or property damage toward another person, anonymously or otherwise, by:
- Data network
- Text or instant message
- Computer or computer network
- Other interactive electronic medium (such as social media)
Colorado Harassment Penalties
Harassment alone is charged as a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by fines up to $750 and six months in county jail.
Harassment, however, becomes a class 1 misdemeanor if the perpetrator “commits harassment … with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin.” Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by up to 18 months in jail and a maximum fine of $5,000.
Although harassment itself is a misdemeanor, it can escalate to potential felony charges. Harassment and stalking, for example, share similarities as criminal acts, but the penalties for stalking are more severe. A first-time stalking charge is a class 5 felony that is punishable by up to three years in jail and a maximum fine of $100,000.
Legal Defense for Harassment Charges
There are several legitimate defenses available to combat criminal harassment based on the circumstances of the charges. Defenses in Colorado harassment cases include but are not limited to:
- The accused did not make the communication as reported
- The accused made no physical contact with the alleged victim
- The accused did to intend to annoy, harm, or alarm anyone
- The communication in question was not obscene or offensive
- The described harassment was not motivated by race, religion, ancestry, or national origin
- The communication was constitutionally protected (i.e., political protest, customer complaint, etc.)
Colorado’s harassment statute is specific in that it is “not intended to infringe upon any right guaranteed to any person by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or to prevent the expression of any religious, political, or philosophical views.”
If you’ve been charged with harassment in Colorado, you need a criminal defense attorney who understands the intricacies of the state’s harassment law. Please call Wolf Law at 720-479-8574 or contact us online to arrange your free consultation.