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Denver Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyers » Harassment Statute
In Colorado, people can face criminal harassment charges under CRS 18-9-111 for a wide variety of behaviors. And depending on the case, the penalties for violating harassment laws can include fines and possibly jail. Here are three things to know about the Colorado harassment statute:
CRS 18-9-111 reads as follows:
(1) A person commits harassment if, with intent to harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she:
(a) Strikes, shoves, kicks, or otherwise touches a person or subjects him to physical contact; or
(b) In a public place directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture to or at another person; or
(c) Follows a person in or about a public place; or
(e) Directly or indirectly initiates communication with a person or directs language toward another person, anonymously or otherwise, by telephone, telephone network, data network, text message, instant message, computer, computer network, computer system, or other interactive electronic medium in a manner intended to
harass orthreaten bodily injury or property damage, or makes any comment, request, suggestion, or proposal by telephone, computer, computer network, computer system, or other interactive electronic medium that is obscene; or
(f) Makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly, whether or not a conversation ensues, with no purpose of legitimate conversation; or
(g) Makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s home or private residence or other private property; or
(h) Repeatedly insults, taunts, challenges, or makes communications in offensively coarse language to, another in a manner likely to provoke a violent or disorderly response.
(1.5) As used in this section, unless the context otherwise requires, “obscene” means a patently offensive description of ultimate sexual acts or solicitation to commit ultimate sexual acts, whether or not said ultimate sexual acts are normal or perverted, actual or simulated, including masturbation, cunnilingus, fellatio, anilingus, or excretory functions.
(2) (a)A person who violates subsection (1)(a) or (1)(c) of this section or violates any provision of subsection (1) of this section with the intent to intimidate or harass another person, in whole or in part, because of that person’s actual or perceived race; color; religion; ancestry; national origin; physical or mental disability, as defined in section 18-9-121 (5)(a); or sexual orientation, as defined in section 18-9-121 (5)(b), commits a class 1 misdemeanor.
(b) A person who violates subsection (1)(e), (1)(f), (1)(g), or (1)(h) of this section commits a class 2 misdemeanor.
(c) A person who violates subsection (1)(b) of this section commits a petty offense.
(3) Any act prohibited by paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section may be deemed to have occurred or to have been committed at the place at which the telephone call, electronic mail, or other electronic communication was either made or received.
(4) to (6) Repealed.
(7) Paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section shall be known and may be cited as “Kiana Arellano’s Law”.
(8) This section is not intended to infringe upon any right guaranteed to any person by the first amendment to the United States constitution or to prevent the expression of any religious, political, or philosophical views.
CRS 18-9-111 defines harassment as having two elements. The first is that the defendant has the intention to annoy, alarm, or harass another person. The second element that the defendant commits one of the following seven harassing acts:
Consequently, harassment in Colorado criminal law comprises taunting words or behaviors that can occur not only in person but also over the phone or online. Typical evidence that district attorneys and criminal defense lawyers rely on in these cases include eyewitness accounts, recorded communications, and surveillance video.1
Harassment rises to the level of stalking (CRS 18-3-602) under Colorado law in one of two situations:
Therefore, stalking requires that the defendant make a credible threat or cause serious emotional distress to the victim. Neither of these elements is required for someone to get convicted of harassment.2
As of March 1, 2022, the criminal sentence for harassment is as follows:
|Harassing Behaviors||Harassment Sentence in Colorado|
|The defendant’s motivation has to do with the victim’s actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation.||Class 1 misdemeanor:
The defendant either:
|Class 1 misdemeanor:
|In a public place, the defendant directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture to or at another person.||Petty offense:
|All other harassment cases.||class 2 misdemeanor:
Prior to March 1, 2022, harassment was a class 1 misdemeanor carrying six to 18 months in jail and/or $500 to $5,000 if the defendant’s motivation had to do with the victim’s actual or perceived:
Otherwise, harassment was a class 3 misdemeanor punishable by up to six months in jail and/or $50 to $750.3
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Michael Becker has over a quarter-century's worth of experience as an attorney and more than 100 trials under his belt. He is a sought-after legal commentator and is licensed to practice law in Colorado, Nevada, California, and Florida.