Facing criminal charges of any kind has the potential to be life-altering, and harassment charges are no exception. These charges come with a possibility of harsh penalties that can impact your life, both in the immediate future and after you have served your sentence. Below is some information to help you understand these charges, their possible penalties, and the options you have as a defendant.
Under Colorado law, defendants are guilty of criminal harassment if they intentionally harass, alarm, or annoy other people in specific ways. Actions that may be considered harassment in this state include:
Keep in mind that these actions will not automatically qualify as criminal harassment. The prosecution must be able to show that the defendant intended to harass the victim when engaging in the behavior. For example, simply calling someone at an inconvenient time is not considered harassment under Colorado law unless you made the call with the intent to upset or harm the individual in some way. If there is no evidence of intent to harass, annoy, or alarm, the charge won't stick.
Harassment charges often overlap with other charges, such as domestic violence, child abuse, or disorderly conduct.
The penalties for criminal harassment depend on the specific charge. In most cases, criminal harassment is a Class 3 Misdemeanor. However, if the harassment was discriminatory in nature, it will be a Class 1 Misdemeanor instead, which is a more serious charge with the potential for a harsher sentence. Harassment may be considered discriminatory if it was based on the victim's race, color, religion, ancestry, mental disability, physical disability, sexual orientation, or national origin.
For example, if you harass someone who is a former romantic partner, you will likely be charged with a Class 3 Misdemeanor. However, if you instead harass or threaten bodily harm against someone because they are gay, you will face a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
The penalties for a Class 3 Misdemeanor conviction include probation or up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $50 to $750. The penalties for a Class 1 Misdemeanor include six to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of $500 to $5,000. In addition to these penalties, the conviction will appear on your criminal record, which may continue to impact your life even after you have served your time and/or paid the required fine.
Because the penalties for a Class 3 Misdemeanor conviction are so harsh, hiring a qualified attorney is essential. Having the right attorney on your side can be the difference between a conviction with a harsh sentence and a dismissal of your charges.
As the defendant in a criminal case, you have the right to representation from an attorney. Although you can choose to defend yourself in these cases, this is rarely recommended. A criminal defense attorney will have in-depth knowledge of the laws that apply in your case, as well as experience in defending previous clients in court.
After you have selected an attorney, they will typically begin by reviewing the evidence and taking the time to learn as much as possible about your case, as well as your criminal history. Based on this information, your attorney will be able to make customized recommendations. Depending on the situation, you may be offered a plea bargain, which is an agreement that allows you to qualify for a reduced charge and/or sentence in return for a guilty plea. Your attorney can help you decide whether to accept this deal.
If your case goes to trial, your attorney will help you build the strongest arguments possible for court. They will also be by your side every step of the way, speaking for you in the courtroom and making sure that your rights are protected at all times.
When working with a criminal defense attorney, remember that your conversations are privileged and protected by law. It is in your best interest to tell your attorney the truth at all times and withhold no relevant information when discussing your case. When your attorney is fully informed, they will be able to provide you with the best quality advice and service.
Every harassment case is unique. However, there are several common defense strategies used to combat criminal harassment charges in Colorado. Perhaps the most common defense used is lack of intent. In such cases, the defendant may admit to the behaviors in question but maintain that they had no intention of harassing or harming anyone when engaging in these behaviors. For example, a defendant who called an ex-partner several times during the night may have made these calls only because they were lonely, not because they wanted to harass the ex-partner.
Some of the other common harassment defenses include:
Any defense used must be backed by evidence and sound reasoning to be effective in court. Your attorney will be able to help you choose the best defense strategy in your specific situation.
If you have been charged with criminal harassment in the state of Colorado, you need to seek advice from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Only a qualified attorney will be able to ensure that you have the best chance of winning your case or of otherwise achieving a good outcome. Our law firm has represented many clients facing criminal charges in Colorado, including harassment. Criminal defense is one of our key practice areas, and we are here to help you explore your options and in order to help you maximize your chances of achieving the best outcome in your case. Please contact our office today to make an appointment or to learn more.
The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship.
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