Stalking Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado
Several celebrities have been victims of stalking. Taylor Swift may even top the list, as she’s been stalked at homes in New York and Beverly Hills. In the Beverly Hills incident, a stalker even drove from Colorado and broke into her home with a knife.
Of course, you don’t need to be a celebrity to be stalked, but fame helps make headline news stories out of the events. Nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 7.5 million people are stalked each year, and approximately one in every six women and one in every 17 men will experience stalking at some point in their life.
Most stalking is done by someone known to the victim, often a former or current partner, yet complete strangers can also become stalkers. You may notice somewhere who is always nearby if you’re going to work or out with friends. You may be receiving unwanted phone calls at home or work, or getting repeated letters, gifts, or even endless social media posts. Stalking comes in many different forms.
If you are being investigated for or charged with stalking in or around Denver, Colorado, contact the Law Offices of Malcolm B. Seawell for a case evaluation and legal representation.
Our attorney, Malcolm B. Seawell, is a former Deputy District Attorney in Colorado and has been defending clients in criminal cases for more than two decades now. We will fight for your rights and pursue every legal option to obtain the best result possible. We serve clients throughout the Denver Metro Area, including Aurora, Golden, Lakewood, Arvada, Boulder, Brighton, Englewood, Castle Rock, Littleton, and Highlands Ranch, Colorado.
What Is Stalking?
According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), “Stalking is a pattern of repeated and unwanted attention, harassment, contact, or any other course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear.” The United States was one of the first nations in the world to make stalking a crime in the 1990s.
As mentioned earlier, stalking doesn’t always involve repeated visual or physical closeness, though that might well be the popular understanding of the word. It can also involve threats, or non-consensual communications, including emails, phone calls, text messages, social media posts, and unwanted gifts. Any other behavior that is used to contact, harass, track, or threaten someone can also fall under the definition of stalking.
Types of Stalking
In general terms, the three major types of stalking are online stalking, phone stalking, and physical stalking. Online stalking, or cyberstalking, involves using the internet or another type of technology to stalk or harass someone.
Some cyberstalkers even create websites or social media accounts using the victim’s name to post false information and make threats. Cyberstalkers will often resort to other methods, such as making repeated phone calls or even physically stalking the victim.
Physical stalking is the scariest of all three types. Stalkers not only may follow the victim around or show up just around the corner wherever the victim is going, but they may also even appear at their homes or places of work.
Colorado Laws Defining Stalking
Colorado’s definition of stalking is found in Section 18-3-602 of the Revised Statutes and is called “Vonnie’s Law.” The definition has three parts, but to be guilty of stalking a person must “knowingly” – either directly or indirectly through another person – commit one of the three described acts. The section is fairly wordy, but to sum matters up, the three stalking categories are:
To make a credible threat to another person and then repeatedly follow, approach, contact, or place that person under surveillance or one of that person’s immediate family members or someone with whom they have a close relationship.
To make a credible threat and in connection to the threat make repeated communications with that person, an immediate family member, or someone in a close relationship.
To cause “serious emotional distress” by repeatedly following, approaching, contacting, placing under surveillance, or making any form of communication with another person, a family member, or someone in a close personal relationship.
A credible threat is any threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear of their safety or of the safety of family members or those in close relationships.
A first stalking offense is considered a class 5 felony, but the penalty rises to a class 4 felony for any subsequent stalking conviction occurring within seven years of the first or previous offense. A class 5 felony is punishable by one to four years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000. A class 4 is punishable by two to eight years and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
Defenses to Stalking Charges
The prosecution is going to have to prove that the defendant “knowingly” committed one of the three categories of stalking, either directly or indirectly. The defense can argue that the defendant did not knowingly break the law and had no intention of harassing, threatening, frightening, or annoying the victim.
The prosecution must also prove that the defendant posed a “credible threat.” The defense can argue that there was no credible threat and/or that a “reasonable person” would not have been scared or distressed by what happened.
In some cases, the alleged victim will use a stalking accusation as a “revenge” technique for a relationship they’ve tired of or one they’ve suddenly regretted. So another defense is that the alleged victim simply lied. It’s also possible that the victim identified the wrong person in a lineup or in a mugshot review conducted by police.
Stalking Defense Attorney Serving Denver, Colorado
If you suddenly find yourself being brought in for questioning about stalking, remember that you don’t have to answer any questions. You should immediately contact a knowledgeable and experienced defense attorney. The authorities should read you your Miranda Rights. Take the warning to heart and contact our team at the Law Offices of Malcolm B. Seawell. We serve clients throughout the Denver Metro Area.