Harassment in Colorado
If you’ve been charged with harassment in Colorado, there’s good and bad news. The good news is harassment is almost always a class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by no more than 6 months in jail. Also, harassment is among the most vague and flimsy charges a police officer or DA could bring: it can be very hard to prove, and is often charged simply because there isn’t anything more serious that you could be charged with.
The bad news is, if the DA is proceeding with a weak charge, it is possibly because your case is considered domestic violence or, for some reason, someone has an axe to grind with you– either a victim, or a DA who wanted to charge you with something. And while being convicted of harassment is better than assault, it will still hurt your employment chances, and could lead to lengthy probation or some jail. And if the crime is charged as an act of domestic violence, then you may also have to deal with the heavy consequences of a domestic violence conviction, including restraining orders, lengthy therapy on probation, and loss of gun rights. So the stakes are high, even for misdemeanor harassment. But help is available: a criminal lawyer with trial experience can be very effective in defending harassment charges in Colorado.
Matthew Hand is a former prosecutor who has handled hundreds of harassment cases, mostly in the context of domestic violence accusations. Matthew Hand has litigated several harassment jury trials, and knows when these charges can be fought successfully, and when it is best to fight for a lenient plea bargain or deferred judgment.
Read below for more information on the different types of harassment in Colorado, or call (303) 900-8480 to speak with Matthew Hand about your case, free of charge.
Harassment—Strike, Shove, Kick…
The most frequently charged type of harassment in Colorado is harassment—strike, shove, or kick. 18-9-111(1)(a). This law basically prohibits any touching of another done with the intent to harass, annoy, or alarm. If the person was hurt or injured by the touching, it would normally be charged assault. For harassment, all that is required is the touching and the prohibited intent.
Defending harassment charges frequently involves fighting the DA on the issue of intent. There are a lot of reasons people touch each other, but the government has to show an intent to harass, annoy, or alarm. The government must disprove self-defense, defense of others, accident, and other innocent explanations of the conduct. They must also, of course, show that the touching happened at all. This can become an issue when an alleged victim lacks credibility, which is the case often enough when an allegation of harassment follows a bitter argument. To defend the charges on any of these grounds, you need a criminal defense lawyer who is an experienced trial lawyer. There are complex rules of evidence and rights that affect how you can establish your evidence, and you need a trial lawyer for that.
Denver criminal lawyer Matthew Hand has extensive trial experience in harassment cases, and can defend you. Call (303) 900-8480 for a free consultation.
Phone harassment, computer harassment
-communicates with the intent to harass
-threatens bodily injury or property damage
-or communicates obscenity
Harassment may also be charged if a person makes repeated telephone calls with no purpose of legitimate conversation, or at inconvenient hours, such that he invades the privacy of another.
See 18-9-11 of the Colorado Revised Statutes for exact language.
These charges are fairly common in domestic violence cases, where someone who was feeling devastated after a fight, or a revelation of an affair, calls and says some aggressive things they later regret. And after they’re hung up on, they call 5 more times. It might be scary or annoying, even if the caller wasn’t intending to scare or annoy anybody. The problem is that this often triggers the mandatory arrest and prosecution requirements of domestic violence law, and the case takes on a life of its own. Read why it is so hard for a victim to drop charges in domestic violence cases.
The other problem is that phone harassment is one of the easiest charges to fabricate, and any experienced prosecutor or defense lawyer has seen it happen. It is critical to investigate both people’s motives and history in a harassment case, as the verdict will often turn on the credibility of the alleged victim, along with electronic evidence. Sometimes there is evidence in phone records, or caller ID, or an audio recording, but often there is not. Fighting to get those records, or to keep out records that are not reliable or helpful, or to get evidence of dishonesty by the victim, is part of what a criminal lawyer does to fight cases like this. It takes an experienced trial lawyer to do it well.
Matthew Hand is an experienced criminal trial lawyer, and has handled dozens of cases of phone harassment. Call (303) 900-8480 for a free consultation.
Other Colorado harassment charges
Don’t harass people, but know your rights and don’t take responsibility for a crime you did not commit. Below are some of the creative ways that the state can charge you, even in situations where no harm was done. Sometimes these charges are meritorious, many times they are not.
Following in public, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm. This is sort of a baby stalking crime, and can be difficult for the prosecution to prove. Unless there is a protection order, you have a right to be out in public. If another person wants to change that, it is easy to go to court and get a civil protection order.
Directing obscene language or gestures at another in public, with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm. What is obscene? What was your intent? What about your first amendment rights? Talk to a lawyer to see if the DA can prove this.
Repeatedly insulting or taunting another, in a way that is likely to cause a violent response, and with the intent to harass, annoy or alarm. Shouting matches happen, and they are typically two-sided—-neither party should be charged if they were both insulting one another. And when does an insult become “repeated”? The second time, or the tenth time? Is the alleged victim credible? A charge like this is extremely hard for the DA to prove when a person is represented by an effective criminal defense lawyer.
To discuss your Colorado harassment case, call Denver criminal lawyer Matthew Hand: (303) 900-8480.