The definition of Harassment in Colorado statutes is a broad one. It encompasses such a vague description of behavior that it could essentially operate as a catch-all charge for anyone involved in an argument or dispute if the prosecution were inclined to use it that way. In fact, if the alleged acts can be proven to have been done with the intent to harass, annoy or intimidate, it could fit the definition in the statute.
Related to Assault and Domestic Violence
Some of the most common harassment allegations arise within the context of domestic violence charges. Often these cases involve both criminal and civil protection (restraining) orders. Harassment is commonly charged in assault cases. For example, where assault is charged as a low-level felony, or Third Degree Assault is charged as a class 1 misdemeanor, harassment strike shove kick may also be charged based upon the same circumstances. Some defendants accused of assault offer to enter a plea to harassment to avoid having an assault conviction on their record, or to avoid the risk of a felony conviction.
Harassment does not have to occur in person. Communication by almost any means could lead to harassment charges. It is very common to see these charges arise from allegations of excessive texting, calling, etc. Repeated contact is a them in the statute. Communication or conversation may not be required. Simply making a phone ring repeatedly or at inconvenient hours, if done for the purpose of harassing, annoying, or intimidating, could result in harassment charges. So too could a single call or text if that call or text meets the other requirements. A common example of single call or text that could result in harassment charges would be a call made to communicate a threat against the recipient.
Due to the broad nature of harassment claims, defenses vary significantly. However, a common requirement across harassment charges is that element of intent. Multiple calls to a single person may seem to fit the description of harassment, but the prosecution would always have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the calls were made intent to harass, annoy, or intimidate. During an emergency, multiple calls may be justified. Unfortunately, there is plenty of space within the statute for charges to arise in the context of even a single argument between two people. Following a person into or out of a building or simply making an obscene gesture (even in traffic), could result in harassment charges. In circumstances where both parties could feasibly be guilty of harassment, the result could turn on who reported the incident to police first.
An attorney with experience defending harassment cases can help the accused identify potential defenses based upon the specific facts of their case. An experienced harassment attorney will carefully review the prosecution’s evidence and thoroughly discuss strengths and weaknesses of the case with the accused. By educating a client in this way, the accused has the best information possible when making decisions about whether to take their case to trial.
Because so many harassment cases involve domestic violence allegations, it is a good idea to seek out an attorney with plenty of experience handling both of these issues. Domestic violence charges introduce additional complexities into any harassment case. For example, the complaining witness may have more reason to mislead police and prosecutors about what happened if child custody is at issue. Child abuse charges may arise if a child is present during an argument between parents. If the alleged victim of harassment is a significant other, a protection order is likely to make access to the home impossible for the accused, further complicating access to evidence and witnesses, and could even make bonding out of jail more difficult.
Attorney Vernon Ready has years of experience in both family law and criminal defense. He has defended the accused and fought for the rights of parents in child custody disputes. In the case of many harassment claims, these fields of expertise intersect, making Ready Law an exceptionally good choice for those accused of harassment, with or without domestic violence charges.