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Perceived threats could lead to a stalking charge

The idea of learning all about someone who is the object of a crush can seem harmless. In fact, television shows and movies portray this as romantic more often than not. Having someone find out personal details may feel unnerving or uncomfortable for some people, though, particularly if that person is a recent acquaintance. 

It is a good idea to understand exactly what behaviors the Colorado statute defines as stalking.

Stalking statute

The first factor involved in Colorado’s stalking statute is intent. A person may commit stalking if he or she knowingly takes one or more of the following actions:

  • Makes a threat that is believable and then follows it up by watching, approaching, contacting or repeatedly following another person
  • Makes a believable threat and then, with respect to that threat, repeatedly communicates with the person in some form, even if no conversation results
  • Causes emotional distress to someone by following, contacting, surveilling, approaching or otherwise communicating with him or her in a way that most people would consider emotionally distressing

The statute expands on the meaning of the word “threat” to include repeated behavior or physical actions that would make any reasonable person fear for his or her safety. If the behaviors themselves seem threatening, the statute states that a verbal threat is not needed for the law to consider the activity a threat.

A person could also commit stalking if he or she knowingly takes one or more of these actions against an immediate family member of or who is in a relationship with the person on the receiving end of the credible threat.

Stalking penalties

Stalking is a class 5 felony if it is a person’s first conviction unless he or she already has a protection order or another court order in effect that prohibits the behavior; then it becomes a class 4 felony. Subsequent stalking offenses are class 4 felonies if they occur within seven years of a previous stalking conviction.

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