Stalking crime in Colorado

Understanding Stalking as a Crime in Colorado

Understanding Stalking as a Crime in Colorado
(Guest Post)

Being annoying is not a crime. Neither is bothering someone. But the crime of stalking in Colorado is not about annoyance or bother – it is about fear. It is about creating a sense of danger and emotional distress in the victim by engaging in repeated conduct that involves threats or unwanted communication or contact. Stalking is a serious crime in Colorado, with prosecutors taking a very aggressive approach in such cases.

“Vonnie’s Law”

The reason stalking is prosecuted so vigorously was set forth by Colorado’s legislature when it passed the state’s anti-stalking law, known as “Vonnie’s Law.” The legislature “recognizes the seriousness posed by stalking and adopts the [anti-stalking law] with the goal of encouraging and authorizing effective intervention before stalking can escalate into behavior that has even more serious consequences.”

Stalking, as defined by Colorado law, involves three key elements:

Repeated conduct That involves a credible threat and/or Causes the victim severe emotional distress.

Specifically, Colorado Revised Statutes section 18-3- 602 (1), C.R.S. provides that a person commits stalking if directly, or indirectly through another person, the person knowingly:

Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, or places under surveillance that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship; or

Makes a credible threat to another person and, in connection with the threat, repeatedly makes any form of communication with that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship, regardless of whether a conversation ensues; or

Repeatedly follows, approaches, contacts, places under surveillance, or makes any form of communication with another person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship in a manner that would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress and does cause that person, a member of that person’s immediate family, or someone with whom that person has or has had a continuing relationship to suffer serious emotional distress.

It is important to note that a single act – whether it be in the form of physical conduct or communication through email, the phone, or otherwise – cannot constitute stalking.

“Repeated” conduct is an essential element of the crime, and that requires more than one event.

Similarly, for a threat to form the basis of a stalking charge, it must be “credible,” which means that the threat, physical action, or repeated conduct “would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for the person’s safety or the safety of his or her immediate family or of someone with whom the person has or has had a continuing relationship.”

That sense of fear can also lead to a stalking conviction even without a credible threat. If the repeated conduct or communication “would cause a reasonable person to suffer serious emotional distress” and they do in fact suffer such distress, the conduct or communication alone can be the basis of a stalking charge.

Penalties for Felony Stalking in Colorado

If you are facing a Colorado stalking charge, you are also facing the possibility of a lengthy time behind bars. Stalking is both a felony as well as an “extraordinary risk” crime.

A first-time stalking offense is a class 5 felony which can result in a sentence of 1-5 years in Colorado state prison, a mandatory 2-year period of parole, and/or fines of up to $100,000.

A second or subsequent offense, if committed within seven years of a prior stalking conviction, will be prosecuted as a class 4 felony. It is also a class 4 felony if the stalking occurred while the accused was under an injunction, protective order, or other court order which prohibited communication or contact with the victim. Upon conviction for class 4 felony stalking, you could spend between 2-10 years in state prison with mandatory 3-year parole, and/or a fine of between $2,000 and $500,000.

Cyberstalking

In addition to “Vonnie’s Law,” Colorado also has a law specifically designed to address cyberstalking, online harassment, and cyberbullying. Known as “Kiana Arellano’s Law,” the law is named for a 14-year old Colorado high school sophomore and cheerleader who tried to kill herself in 2013 after being cyberbullied by classmates.

Online harassment, cyberstalking, and cyberbullying under “Kiana Arellano’s Law” is usually charged as a class 3 misdemeanor that can result in up to 6 months in jail, and/or a fine of $50-$750 upon conviction. However, online harassment can be charged as a class 1 misdemeanor if the harassment is committed with the intent to intimidate or harass another person because of that person’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, or national origin. In such a case, conviction can result in 6 – 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $500-$5,000.

Given the consequences of a Colorado stalking conviction, it is important to contact an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney as soon as you can. There are numerous defenses that may be available to you, and your lawyer can help assert those defenses, protect your rights, and guide you through this difficult time.

James Newby
Call for Free Consultation (719) 578-3322
Colorado Springs Criminal Defense Attorney

#CrippleCreekToday
#CreekToday

 

10 Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney

10 Questions to Ask a Criminal Defense Attorney

Questions?

If you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, you need a criminal defense attorney and you need one quickly. Odds are, you don’t have a criminal defense lawyer on your speed dial. It may also be the case that you’ve never had to hire an attorney before in your life. The fact is, most people who are looking for a criminal defense attorney are doing so for the very first time.

Picking the right defense lawyer is perhaps the most important decision you’ll make as part of your journey through the criminal justice system. Choose the right one, and you may be able to put this ordeal behind you with minimal disruption to your life. Make the wrong choice, and your freedom and your future can be in grave danger.

As with anything in life, if you don’t know what you should be looking for, it is hard to make a wise, informed choice. In order to get a sense of whether a particular criminal defense lawyer is the right one for you and your case – whether this is someone who you can trust with your life – you need information. You need to know their experience handling cases like yours, how much they will charge you, and their track record obtaining favorable results, among other things. You’ll want to make sure the defense attorney you hire is known for aggressively defending his or her clients, successfully obtaining acquittals and withdrawals of criminal charges, and negotiating advantageous plea bargains.

Here are 10 questions you should ask a Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney before you hire them to represent you in your criminal case:

  1. How long have you practiced criminal law in Colorado Springs?
  2. Is your practice exclusively focused on criminal defense?
  3. How many people have you represented facing charges like mine?
  4. In how many cases like mine have you achieved favorable results?
  5. What is your general approach to cases like mine?
  6. Will you personally handle my case or will some other attorney in your office work on it?
  7. How much will you charge to represent me?
  8. Do you offer payment plans?
  9. How long does it usually take to defend a case like this one?
  10. Can I reach you quickly if I have a question or concern?

When you meet with Colorado Springs criminal lawyers, try to get a sense of their tenacity and commitment. Are they taking the time to answer your questions? Are they giving you a sense that they are all in? Do they make you feel a sense of confidence and comfort? Do you trust them with your future?

You want to choose a criminal attorney who demonstrates the following qualities:

  • Availability and responsiveness
  • Ability to explain the law, your options, and next steps in plain language
  • A willingness to challenge prosecutors
  • Empathy, concern, and compassion for the ordeal you are facing and the fears that come with it.
  • Problem solving skills
  • Clear explanation of their fee structure and the potential costs of your defense and a willingness to work with you to reach a fair arrangement.

As noted, you want a lawyer with experience and success defending cases like yours. Ideally, you also want a defense attorney who has actually prosecuted cases like yours. Many of the most prominent and successful defense lawyers were formerly prosecutors. There’s a reason for that. The insights gained when pursuing convictions in a prosecutor’s office can be invaluable when defending criminal cases. Knowing the likely approaches and strategies of prosecutors can help in the preparation of the strongest possible defense. It can also be extremely useful in formulating strategies for negotiations and plea agreements that minimize the potential consequences of a conviction.

By hiring a criminal defense lawyer possessing these personal qualities, you are more likely to obtain a successful outcome in your criminal case.

James Newby
Call for Free Consultation (719) 578-3322
Colorado Springs Crimial Defense Attorney

Trial By Jury And You

Rights And Responsibilities Under the Sixth Amendment

The sixth amendment of United States Constitution guarantees each citizen of the United States the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of one’s peers. This means that if a person is accused of a crime, that person has the right to ask for a trial by jury. This is one of the most important rights that a person accused of a crime has to protect them. Interesting enough, it is also one of the things which people summoned for jury duty dislike the most.

Our legal system is designed as an adversarial system. This means that both the prosecution, (the government), and the defense use all of the resources, rules, and ethical tactics available to pursue their interests. The thought is that with both sides pushing as hard as they possibly can, the truth will be squeezed out from between them. In the adversarial system, an impartial, unbiased, untainted truth finder is absolutely required. That truth finder is the modern jury.

When you are summoned for jury duty, another human being is putting their trust in you to determine guilt or innocence. It is inconvenient. It is at times boring. No, court is not like it appears on television, although I do sometimes remind myself of Perry Mason! Just teasing of course. It is a sacrifice to give of your time and energy to pass judgment on someone else. But it is a necessary sacrifice to make sure the system works.

Many people I speak with assume that everyone the police arrest is guilty of a crime. This is simply not true. My experience is that law enforcement work as hard as possible to accurately and truthfully make proper arrests. However, they are human and they have a prospective and a focus. Additionally, there is a difference between the probable cause necessary to arrest a person and the standard of beyond a reasonable doubt necessary to convict someone.

Our criminal justice system is designed so that it is difficult to convict someone of a crime. Often I hear people complain that it seems like the criminals have all of the rights. That is true! The reason is that we do not want to risk innocent people being convicted. That is why someone accused of a crime has the right to a lawyer, the right to remain silent, the right to confront witnesses, and of course the right to a jury trial. Even with all of these protections in place, occasionally innocent people still get convicted. However, for the most part our system works and it works remarkably well.

If you have the privilege of serving on a jury, I invite you to rejoice that we live in a free country where a group of one’s peers determine guilty or innocence rather than a person appointed by the government.

If you think about the criminal process, the law enforcement, the prosecutor, and the Court are all a function of the government. The only aspect of the system that an accused person faces that is not a part of the government is the twelve members of the jury. If you are called to serve, serve faithfully and gratefully. May God bless the jury system, the Constitution that established it, and the United States of America.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado Springs

James Newby

James Newby

Identity theft image

Identity Theft – More Common Than You Realize

Ways To Avoid Becoming A Victim

Author: James Newby

Identity Theft is a major problem almost everywhere in the United States. Colorado is not an exception to the problems associated with Identity Theft. Every year victims of identity theft lose millions of dollars by having their identities stolen. This article will explain what identity theft is and some very simple ways to avoid becoming a victim.

The legislature has defined the crime by saying, “a person commits identity theft if he or she knowingly uses the personal identifying information, financial identifying information, or financial device of another without permission or lawful authority with the intent to obtain cash, credit, property, services, or any other thing of value or to make a financial payment.” This means that a person takes another’s personal information and uses it fraudulently to gain a benefit. For practical purposes this usually means that a person takes either another’s debit card or check book and buys something without permission. It can also mean using someone’s social security number, name, or other personal information to get a loan or buy property.

Many victims of identity theft have their information taken by someone close to them, either a relative or someone staying in their home temporarily. It sounds simple, but it is good counsel to make sure that you do not leave your wallet, check book, or bills lying around the house. Keep confidential information stored in a safe place. I have seen many cases where a normally trust worthy person gives in to temptation because of easy access to another’s financial and personal information. The pressures of life and a small amount of rationalization can lead to bad choices.

Another very common way in which people become victims of identity theft is by making theft of such information easy for criminals. A crime which is becoming more and more common is known as car hopping. This is where a person will go through a neighborhood looking through all of the parked cars, looking for unlocked doors or cars with valuables in plain view. If a car looks promising, the car hoppers will go enter, take the valuables and move on to the next car. When a person has your wallet, that person has all of the information necessary to steal your identity.

Those trying to steal your financial and personal information want what’s easy. My simple advice is to make it difficult for would be thieves by keeping any valuables out of sight when in your vehicle. Lock your car when you leave it. Remember thieves want easy. It’s much easier to move on the next unlocked car than to break your window and risk getting caught. I know what you’re thinking. Who would leave their car unlocked or leave their purse or wallet on the front seat? You would be surprised how many people make it easy to steal their identity.

In closing a little word of caution regarding using someone else’s financial information without permission or even with permission. Identity theft is a class four felony and can carry with it up to six years in prison. Never use someone else’s personal information without their permission. The consequences are severe and may follow you for the rest of your life. Also, be cautious when using someone else’s information even with their permission. For example, I have had clients who were given permission by a friend to use that friend’s debit card to make a purchase. Later, there is a falling out and that friend denies ever having given permission. This can lead to criminal charges which are costly and cause a lot of stress. It is best to make sure that you have proof of having received permission, particularly in writing, in case your actions are ever called into questions.

While there is no sure proof way to make sure you are not a victim of identity theft, protecting financial information and simply using common sense will greatly increase your chances of not becoming the next victim.

Criminal Defense Attorney in Colorado Springs representing Teller County too.

James Newby

James Newby

Have you been affected by identity theft? Leave a comment.

See related article:  Credit Reports-for Your Eyes Only

 

What’s Criminal About Legal Marijuana?

marijuana plants

With the recent legalization of marijuana in Colorado, people have questions
regarding smoking or ingesting marijuana and driving.

The purpose of this article is to give some basic information about driving under the influence of drugs, as well as whether a person can legally possess marijuana in a vehicle.

The DUI statute in Colorado reads, “[Driving under the influence] means driving a motor vehicle…when a person has consumed alcohol or one or more drugs…that affects the person to a degree that the person is substantially incapable, either mentally or physically…to exercise clear judgment, sufficient physical control, or due care in the safe operation of a vehicle.” In other words, it is illegal to drink alcohol or smoke or ingest marijuana to a degree that you are substantially incapable to safely drive a car.

That definition begs the question – How much marijuana can I have in my system and still drive safely? Under the law, if a person completes a blood test and that test shows that the delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol per milliliter of whole blood is greater than 5 nanograms, there is a presumption that person is under the influence of marijuana and unsafe to operate a motor vehicle. There is a debate regarding whether someone with more than 5 nanograms of Delta 9 is intoxicated, but for now the law is the law. Different experts disagree as to how long a person will remain intoxicated after smoking marijuana, but most agree that the high will wear off within 4-6 hours. Of course, there are exceptions to this depending on how often a person smokes and how much that person smokes.

Most of the aspects of marijuana DUIs are very similar to alcohol DUIs. It usually begins with being stopped by the police. If the police suspect you have been smoking marijuana, they will most likely ask if you smoke and when was the last time. They may also ask you to complete voluntary roadside maneuvers to attempt to determine your ability to divide your attention between two or more things at once. If you do not successfully complete the tests, they will require you to take a blood test to determine the level of marijuana in your blood. If you are required to take a blood test, the law enforcement officer will also issue you a summons to appear in Court and face the allegation that you were driving a vehicle under the influence of marijuana.

If you find yourself in Court on these types of charges, I recommend you consider hiring an attorney to assist you in Court. While each case is different and the outcomes vary widely, I can assure you that you will not enjoy the experience.

Also, in regards to having marijuana in a vehicle, it is illegal to possess an open marijuana container in a vehicle. An open container is defined as “a receptacle or marijuana accessory that contains any amount of marijuana and that is open or has a broken seal, the contents of which are partially removed, and there is evidence that marijuana has been consumed within the motor vehicle.” This is a lot of legal language which basically means that you can’t smoke marijuana in your car or even have marijuana in your car. It is best to leave it in the trunk or don’t have it in the car at all.

In summary, if you smoke or ingest marijuana be very careful and make sure that you are safe to drive before doing so. If you have any questions or need help, please feel free to contact me at 719-578-3322.

Criminal Defense Attorney-Colorado Springs and Teller County.

James Newby

James Newby

What Each Of Us Need To Know About DUI’s

DUI Arrests Are Preventable

Image representing DUI

Author: James Newby

As a lawyer who has worked as both a Deputy District Attorney and a DUI defense attorney in Teller County, I have a unique perspective on DUI’s. I have seen the tragic loss that comes from consuming alcohol and driving. I have seen people killed and seriously injured as a result of drunk driving. I have seen the heartache that will last a life time. There truly are no winners on either side of these serious cases.

The most common question I am asked about my job is how I can defend guilty people. My response is always two-fold. First, I remind them that not everyone accused of a crime is guilty. The police are human and make mistakes in judgment. Behavior that might appear at first glance to be intoxication, may in fact be caused by something completely unrelated, such as fatigue, poor health, or jumping to conclusions. The second thing I always tell people is that I have no problem representing good people who make a poor decision. My job is to make sure that my clients are treated fairly even if they are guilty. Another part of my job is to try to prevent my clients and others from making the same poor decision a second time by giving them my opinion on drinking and driving.

With that said, may I give you some unsolicited advice? My advice is simple. If you have any alcohol to drink, DO NOT DRIVE at all! Let me say that it is not against the law to drink alcohol and then drive a vehicle. We are so used to hearing the slogan “don’t drink and drive,” we think it is a statement of the law. A more accurate statement of the law is do not drink too much and drive. The difficult part is knowing how much is too much. This is the part that most people get wrong, sometimes with tragic consequences.

Let me explain. In Colorado, you are presumed to be impaired by alcohol if your blood or breath alcohol content is .05 or above. That translates to approximately 2-3 beers in an hour period, depending upon the person. Each beer is calculated to add between .02 and .025 to a person’s alcohol content. The average person metabolizes .02 per hour. Meaning your blood alcohol level drops .02 per hour. If the average person drinks one beer per hour on an empty stomach, that person will be close to .00 at the end of several hours of drinking. That means that most people could probably drink two beers, wait an hour and then safely drive home. The problem with this logic is that the closer you get to that line, the more risk that you accidently cross over the line.   It’s simply safer to not get close to the line at all.

My philosophy is to find out what the law says and stay as far on the safe side of the line as possible. I can’t express to you how many times I have had clients sitting across my desk from me, telling me how they thought they were safe to drive. They say, “It was only a few blocks away” or “I’d only had a few drinks. I didn’t even feel intoxicated.” When that happens I do all I can to help them deal with the problems their decision created. However, it would be far easier if the decision was never made.

If you are going to drink, find another way to get home, or wait several hours before driving. If you absolutely have to drive, wait two hours for every drink you’ve had, just to be on the safe side. I’ve never had anyone tell me they regret being too careful. I’ve had plenty of people tell me they wish they had been more cautious. Stay on the safe side of the law. My advice is “Don’t Drink and Drive!”

Criminal Defense Attorney-Colorado Springs & Teller County

James Newby

James Newby