Charged with harassment in Colorado? Learn what you’re facing.
Generally speaking, persons residing in Colorado are given reasonable latitudes in how they treat other persons.
However, Colorado Revised Statute 18-9-111, also referred to as Kiana Arellano’s law, does provide a list of actions that can constitute criminal harassment.
What constitutes harassment in Colorado?
Colorado Revised Statute 18-9-111, including subsection (e) referred to as Kiana Arellano’s law, specifies the parameters for harassment.
Prosecutors must prove intent to annoy, harass or alarm prior to charging persons with harassment stemming from any one of these actions:
- Striking an individual by shoving, kicking or any similar means which causes harm;
- Obscene gestures, innuendos or language in public places;
- Following (stalks) an individual in public area;
- Initiates inappropriate communication using any telephonic device, such as phones, computers, tablets, and does so with the intent to harm, threaten, belittle or anything similar (Kiana Arellano’s law);
- Causes phone to ring repeatedly;
- Makes communication, or attempts such, during hours deemed inconvenient;
- Insults, taunts, challenges or otherwise creates commotion likely to initiate an adverse response.
What are the Penalties for Criminal Harassment in Colorado?
Crimes committed under this section are Class 3 misdemeanors unless the harassment is pointed toward individuals of race, religion, disability, ancestry or similar, in which it becomes a Class 1 misdemeanor.
Criminal harassment in Colorado is usually a Class 3 misdemeanor. However, it can become a Class 1 misdemeanor if the harassment is pointed toward individuals of race, religion, disability, or ancestry.
Current range of penalties for Class 3 misdemeanors include up to six months incarceration and/or fines between $50 and $750. For Class 1 misdemeanors, penalties increase to 6-18 months of possible incarceration, and/or $500 to $5000 in fines
Determining the level of harassment Colorado prosecutors will charge persons with involves thoroughly investigating claims at the law enforcement level. Provided enough evidence exists that harassment took place, charges will be filed accordingly.
An arrest will more than likely take place, in which you’ll be given the opportunity to retain counsel. Hire an attorney who is experienced in criminal law. Hired counsel may visit you when incarcerated if bond wasn’t issued; currently, Colorado laws make talking with your attorney safe while in jail.
Colorado harassment defense attorney Miller Leonard will dig deep into the allegations with the mindset that sometimes words are taken out of context, while oftentimes evidence lacks substantiation for charges presented to their client.
Defending Against Criminal Harassment Charges in Colorado
Since prosecutors are given a narrow lane to charge persons with harassment, many defenses are available to attorneys who want charges dismissed.
Some potential defenses may include:
- No communication or physical threats happened between defendant and victim;
- Defendant’s actions were initiated out of anger or fear;
- There was no proven intent to annoy, harm or alarm anyone;
- Defendant’s discussion or communication wasn’t obscene;
- Communication initiated was protected constitutionally;
- The element of ‘reasonable’ doesn’t apply to time when you called someone (i.e. during business hours, when you knew they were up);
- The victim had no privacy expectations;
- Harassment wasn’t compelled by an individual’s protected class (race, creed, color).
Freedom of speech, which is protected by the U.S. Constitution, cannot generally be raised as a defense to one’s harassment. For instance, People ex rel. VanMeveren v. County Court, 551 P.2d 716 (1976), clearly states that the harassment statute created a permissible limitation on one’s free use of speech.
What if I’m Convicted of Criminal Harassment in Colorado?
After putting your case before Colorado jurors, it’s up to them to judge facts to determine if the prosecution proved their case. If found guilty by jury, the judge will sentence you according to law, and may assess fines and fees.
Innocent people can be found guilty, a fact we know all too well. But errors in trial, facts purposely left out of trial, and other procedural flaws could be grounds for Colorado’s Appellate Court to reverse the trial court’s decision.
Convictions can impair your ability to maintain or receive gainful employment. It may also take away certain rights, such as gun ownership. But most of all, successful convictions mean that blemished record will follow you throughout life.
Defense attorney Miller Leonard makes every attempt to have cases dismissed prior to trial, especially when facts supporting a conviction lack aggravating weight.
Your Next Steps
Although harassment is only a misdemeanor, the charge comes with serious implications – especially under the subsection dedicated to Kiana Arellano in 2015. You may recall the 14-year-old Colorado high schooler who attempted to take her own life after being bullied, but failed, resulting in paralysis and the inability to talk.
Prior to that inclusion into law, Colorado had no cyber crimes like cyberbullying law.
Once an investigation has been launched, it’s important to have an attorney present during questioning to avoid self-incrimination. Coerced statements, or making statements under extreme duress, aren’t uncommon in law enforcement; attorneys who know these tactics will exploit them and shut down further communication.
Remember, you’re innocent of harassment until proven guilty. Miller Leonard provides an exceptional level of representation and has years working as a defense attorney to help you defend your case.
Contact Miller Leonard Today for Help
Instead of fighting harassment charges without counsel, or pleading to charges without reviewing the facts against you, exercise your right to face your accuser with the assistance of an attorney who knows Colorado law.
Consultations cost nothing, and we’ll look over evidence provided such as text messages, email communications or social media postings to determine potential outcomes, and discuss next steps. When you decide to retain Miller Leonard, you’ll retain proven courtroom experience in cases involving harassment.