A person who, with the intent to “harass, annoy, or alarm” another person can commit the crime of harassment if he does any of the following things:
(1) strikes, shoves, kicks or otherwise subjects that person to physical contact;
(2) in a public place, directs obscene language or makes an obscene gesture at a another person;
(3) follows a person in or about a public place;
(4) initiates communication with another person by telephone, text message or computer, in a manner intended to harass or threaten bodily injury or
property damage or makes any obscene comment by telephone or computer;
(5) makes a telephone call or causes a telephone to ring repeatedly with no purpose of legitimate conversation;
(6) makes repeated communications at inconvenient hours that invade the privacy of another and interfere in the use and enjoyment of another’s
(7) repeatedly insults, taunts, challenges or makes communications in offensively coarse language to another in a manner likely to provoke a
The harassment statute is C.R.S. Section 18-9-111.
The best defense in a harassment case is often a lack of proof on the prosecution’s side of the mental element of “intent to harass.” It is not a crime to merely follow someone. Nor is it a crime to call someone on the telephone or send a text message. The crime of harassment is not committed unless the conduct was done “with the intent to harass.” This is often the weak link in the prosecution’s case.
A similar but slightly different crime is a violation of an order of protection. This crime is located at C.R.S. Section 18-6-803.5.
The crime of violation of an order of protection occurs when a person has been personally served with an order restraining him from contacting a particular person or going on her property, and he does any of the following:
(1) contacts, harasses, injures, intimidates, molests, threatens or touches the protected person or property;
(2) enters or remains on the premises of the property, or within a specified distance from it;
(3) hires another person to try to locate the protected person;
(4) possesses a firearm while the order of protection is in effect.
A third related crime is stalking. To read more about stalking, click here.
These crimes exist because of the strong public policy interest in protecting an innocent person from someone who is determined to harass, annoy, or stalk her. Police and prosecutors will often initiate a prosecution after having heard only one side of the story – the victim’s. If you are being investigated or charged with harassment, stalking or violation of an order of protection, you should contact a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The police and prosecutor want to protect the victim. Satisfying them that you pose no threat to her or that she has lied, exaggerated, or made false statements simply to get you in trouble can sometimes make the cases go away.
Jim Anest and Morley Swingle are both former prosecutors. During his 30 years as a prosecutor, Swingle handled hundreds of harassment cases. He has litigated these cases at the trial and appellate level.
If you are facing this sort of charge and need advice from an experienced lawyer, feel free to call Parker Lawyers for a consultation. (303) 841-9525.