Making a criminal threat involves threatening physical harm, placing another person in fear of imminent serious injury, or making a credible stalking threat. Criminal threats may be a violation of Colorado's laws against stalking or menacing. Criminal threats can be a misdemeanor or felony offense, depending on the nature of the threat and whether a weapon was involved. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:
- 1. What are criminal threats in Colorado?
- 2. What is menacing?
- 3. What is a stalking threat?
- 4. What are the penalties for making criminal threats?
- 5. What are the defenses to criminal threat charges?
Making criminal threats involves threatening to harm or kill another person that places them in fear of harm. Criminal threats are also known as terrorist threats. Colorado's laws against criminal threats include the statutes against menacing and stalking.
Under Colorado law, menacing is making a threat that places another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Under C.R.S. 18-3-206, menacing is a class 3 misdemeanor. If a threat is made with a deadly weapon, or the person making the threat represents they are armed with a deadly weapon, menacing is a class 5 felony.1
Serious bodily injury includes injuries that involve a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or impairment to any function of the body. It also includes injuries with broken bones, fractures, or serious burn injuries.2
A deadly weapon includes any weapon that is likely to produce death or great bodily injury. Deadly weapons may include a knife, gun, baseball bat, crowbar, screwdriver, or hammer. Even a fist may be considered a deadly weapon if it is used in a manner capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.3
Making a threat may also be a violation of Colorado's stalking laws. Under C.R.S. 18-3-602, it is a criminal offense to make a credible threat against another person and repeatedly approach, contact, follow, or attempt to communicate with that person, their intimate partner, or member of their immediate family.
A credible threat is a threat, physical action, or repeated conduct that would cause a reasonable person to be in fear for their safety, or the safety of their partner or immediate family.4 Threats can come from a verbal statement, Facebook post, email, text, or even a gesture. The immediate family includes the person's spouse, parents, grandparents, siblings, or children.5
Menacing without a deadly weapon is a Class 3 misdemeanor. Penalties for menacing include up to 6 months in jail and a fine of up to $750. However, if menacing involved use of a deadly weapon, threat of a deadly weapon, or representation that they were armed with a deadly weapon, menacing is a class 5 felony. Penalties include up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Stalking is a felony in Colorado. Stalking is generally classified as a class 5 felony. However, because stalking is considered an “extraordinary risk” crime, it may result in increased sentencing. The penalties for stalking include up to 4 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.6
If the individual charged with stalking has a prior conviction for stalking within 7 years, stalking is charged as a class 4 felony. If the individual charged with stalking violated a temporary or permanent protection order against contacting the person they are stalking, they have also committed a class 4 felony. The penalties for an extraordinary risk class 4 felony include up to 8 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
After release from prison for a class 4 felony offense, you may also have to serve mandatory parole for a period of 3 years. This includes reporting to parole officers, parole officer visits, submitting to random drug tests, employment visitation, drug treatment programs, and restrictions on where you can go and who you can have contact with. Violating parole conditions may result in revocation of your parole.
Also see our article on domestic violence harassment, which can include making threats.
There are a number of possible defenses to charges of making a criminal threat. Menacing generally requires the knowledge that you were placing someone in fear of imminent harm. If you were making a joke or did not expect them to take your statement seriously, it may be a defense to the criminal offense of menacing. Other possible defenses may include:
- You did not have a deadly weapon,
- Your statements were not directed towards anyone,
- The alleged victim was making false accusations, or
- You were not stalking anyone because you only contacted them once.
Call us for help...
If you were accused of making criminal threats, stalking, or menacing, please contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group.
- C.R.S. 18-3-206
- C.R.S. 18-1-901(3)(p)
- People v. Pennese, 830 P.2d 1085 (Colo. App. 1991)
- C.R.S. 18-3-602(2)(b)
- C.R.S. 18-3-602(2)(c)
- C.R.S. 18-3-602(4)