Colorado Assault Laws

In any situation, assault is a serious offense in Colorado because it involves inflicting harm on another person. However, understanding what is considered assault, the consequences, and how to handle charges can make all the difference.

Assault in Colorado

In reference to personal injury law, assault is simply an attempt or threat of violence against another person, and not the actual violence itself. This means that no contact actually has to be made to be considered an act of assault, however, an act must accompany words. The term assault is used to describe the act when one person threatens bodily harm to another person in a convincing manner. For an offense to be charged, two elements have to have occurred: the act was both intended — purposely, knowingly, or recklessly — to and did, cause the other person to believe that harmful or offensive contact would occur.

Assault versus Battery

Many people confuse the terms assault and battery, using them interchangeably or together to refer to a single act. However, it is important to understand that assault can happen without battery, and vice versa. Assault refers to the attempt or threat of violence, whereas battery is the act of physical contact to inflict the threatened violence.

Assault versus Menacing

Menacing is when a person verbally threatens or acts in an attempt to make another person fear that they are in imminent danger of serious bodily injury. The difference between menacing and assault is the intent to act on the threat. Menacing is when a perpetrator attempts to intimidate or threaten another person without the intent or ability to follow-through. Assault is when the threat is made with the intent to make good on the threat of harm.

Third Degree Assault

Assault in the third degree is the lesser of all assault charges and is classified as a misdemeanor in Colorado. To be charged with a third-degree or assault, you must have knowingly or recklessly caused bodily injury to another person; or, negligently or accidentally caused injury with a deadly weapon. It is important to understand that injury can include pain, regardless of whether or not it leaves a mark. Additionally, a deadly weapon can be argued as any object that has the capability of inflicting serious bodily injury or death, including vehicles and golf clubs, in addition to traditional weapons such as knives and guns. Generally, a bar fight or minor altercation will result in a third-degree assault charge.

The difference between whether the charges will be classified as a misdemeanor or felony is whether the injury caused serious bodily injury or not. A serious bodily injury is that which carries the substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, impairment of the function of any body part or organ, bone breaks, or burns greater than second degree — either at the time of the incident or as a result of it.


Second Degree Assault

Second degree assault is a serious felony that carries mandatory jail time and fines. Assault in the second degree is that which causes or intends to cause bodily harm to another person. If a prosecutor can prove any of the following, you could be convicted of second degree assault:

  • You intended to cause bodily injury and used a deadly weapon to inflict the injury.
  • You intended to inflict bodily injury to another person and did.
  • With the intention to prevent a peace officer or firefighter from performing their duty, you caused bodily injury to any person.
  • You intentionally physically or mentally impaired another person by using drugs or another substance, without their consent.
  • While lawfully confined, you applied physical force against a peace officer, firefighter, judge, court official, or detention facility employee, or caused them to come into contact with feces, urine, saliva, or other bodily fluids for the intent of injuring, infecting, harassing, or annoying them.

The offense may be lessened if the assault was committed in the heat of passion, and deemed more serious with harsher penalties if the assault was committed during the perpetration or evasion from another felony offense.

First Degree Assault

Assault in the first degree is the most severe form of assault charges and carries the harshest punishment. A guilty conviction carries mandatory prison time, parole, and hefty fines. If a prosecutor can prove any of the following, you can be facing a first degree assault conviction:

  • Intentionally caused serious bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon.
  • Knowingly acted in a way that created a serious risk of death to another person, which resulted in injury.
  • Intentionally destroyed, disfigured, or amputated a body part of another person.
  • You threatened — with the intent of causing serious bodily injury — a police officer or firefighter with a deadly weapon.

All charges of assault can be charged in addition to and separately from other charges. For instance: assault and battery, domestic violence, or harassment, where each charge will carry its own verdict and sentencing.

Consequences of Assault Charges in Colorado

Possible consequences that may result from a guilty verdict of assault include:

Menacing With a Deadly WeapingFelony1 to 3 years$1,000 to $100,000

Misdemeanor Presumptive Sentencing Presumptive Fines Presumptive Fines
Class 1 (extraordinary risk) 6-24 months $500-$5,000 $500-$5,000
Class 1 6-18 months $500-$5,000 $500-$5,000
Class 2 3-12 months $250-$1,000 $250-$1,000
Class 3 Up to 6 months $50-$750 $50-$750

When you are facing assault charges in Colorado Springs, do not rely on the prosecutor to fail to produce evidence or a public defender to negotiate a plea. Consult the experience of a local defense attorney who can analyze the details of your case and build a defense. Contact the Law Offices of Murphy and Price for your legal consultation today.


Aggravated Assault

The term aggravated assault is used to describe an assault that is made more serious by intent, result, use of a deadly weapon, or perpetrated against a protected population. By Colorado law definition, first and third degree assaults are already considered to be aggravated and are, therefore, felonies as opposed to (non-aggrevated) third degree assault that is a misdemeanor. There are, however, separate charges that are often filed in conjunction with felony assault that will enhance the sentence if you are found guilty.

Rape and Sexual Assault

If the assault was perpetrated with the intent of sexual arousal, sexual gratification, or sexual abuse, the charges are then escalated from assault to sexual assault. Colorado state law does not divide rape and sexual assault, but instead increases penalties based on aggravating factors such as force and use of drugs. If an assault included the touching, injury, or accidental penetration of intimate parts without the intent of arousal, sexual gratification, abuse, or humiliation of either party, the charges should be assault.

Manslaughter

Under Colorado state law, manslaughter is the charge filed in the event of an accidental death that was the result of assisted suicide, serious negligence, or death caused by a car due to poor driving behavior without the intent to kill someone. Manslaughter can be filed in conjunction with assault charges if the person who was assaulted later dies as the result of injuries or due to the negligence of a person in possession of a deadly weapon, where there was no intent of loss of life. For instance, if two people are involved in a bar fight, they may both be facing third degree assault charges. However, if one of the bar patrons dies as a result of the injuries sustained in the fight, the other person may be charged with manslaughter in addition to assault. Additionally, if someone is carrying a concealed handgun that is discharged in a fall and accidentally kills a bystander, the person carrying the weapon can be charged with negligent manslaughter. Texting and driving or driving under the influence that results in the accidental death of another person is grounds for vehicular manslaughter charges.

Intimate Partner Violence or Domestic Violence

Domestic violence or intimate partner violence in Colorado is any assault that takes place against someone with whom the perpetrator is or has been in an intimate relationship with. Colorado state law does not differentiate domestic violence and assault charges but uses the definition of domestic violence to escalate sentencing, issue protective orders, and include assaults or threat of assault against the intimate partner’s property or animals.

Child Abuse

Assault inflicted on a child is charged as child abuse. Child abuse includes the physical, emotional, or sexual abuse of children. Child abuse is the act or the omission of the act to protect a child from sexual assault, molestation, exploitation, emotional abuse, malnutrition, prostitution, or has bruising, bleeding, burns, or fractures that were not accidental. Child abuse also includes neglect where the child is in need of food, clothing, shelter, medical care, or supervision because the parent fails to provide it.

Assault on an Elderly or Disabled Person

Assault on a person who is sixty years of age or older, or is disabled due to the loss of use of a limb or eyesight is considered an assault on an elderly or disabled person. Due to the fact that they are less able to defend themselves and are more likely to be impacted by an assault, the punishment is harsher for a conviction and, even in a third degree charge, is classified as a felony.

Hate Crime

Federal and Colorado state laws create a mandatory sentence enhancer for assaults that are perpetrated against another person that are bias-motivated. This means that if the assault occurred because of the actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, or physical or mental ability, punishments will be harsher for a conviction and will be classified as a felony regardless of the degree or the charge.

Vehicular Assault

Vehicular assault in Colorado occurs when a vehicle is used to perpetrate an assault. The main difference between vehicular assault and other forms of assault is that intent to injure another person does not have to be present for conviction. If you drive in a reckless manner, such as under the influence of drugs or alcohol or while texting on a phone, and your driving is the cause of injury to another person, it is considered vehicular assault. Additionally, if intent to cause bodily injury to another person by use of a vehicle is present without harm, you could also be charged with vehicular assault. Vehicular assault and reckless driving charges have to include proof there was a deliberate or willful disregard for the safety or people or property.

If you are facing assault charges in Colorado Springs, you’ll want to ensure that you are not wrongfully convicted of assault and that charges are not escalated against you due to the age or condition of the other party. Do not rely on getting a poorly prepared prosecutor or on the defense prepared by a public defender. Assault charges and convictions can negatively impact every facet of your life. Contact an experienced local defense attorney to begin building your case today.

Assault Legal Defenses

Sometimes assault occurs when the intent to cause bodily injury to another person is not committed with ill intention or the desire to inflict harm. If you are charged with assault, there are a number of defenses that may be used to help reduce the charges or punishment, negotiate a plea, or have the charges dropped altogether. An affirmative defense is one that does not dispute the fact that the assault occurred, but attempts to validate the assault and negate or negotiate the charges.

Self Defense

Self- defense laws in Colorado allows you to defend yourself, other people, and property from the danger of a perpetrator. The use of deadly force is allowed to prevent the act of attacker from seriously assaulting, kidnapping, or sexually assaulting yourself or another person. The Make My Day Law allows for the use of deadly force within a person’s own residence to defend against any crime, including robbery, where the perpetrator threatens the use of physical force or a deadly weapon.

Heat of Passion

Assault perpetrated in the heat of passion occurs when the acts of the victim of the assault performed an act that would provoke or “excite and irresistible passion” in a reasonable person and there is no lapse between the provoking act and the assault. While a heat of passion defense may not result in a not-guilty verdict, it can significantly reduce the sentence and classification of the charges.

Execution of Public Duty

When the use of physical force is authorized by a law enforcement officer to help control the peace or mitigate a dangerous situation, the assault can be defended as the execution of public duty. However, for this defense, the law enforcement officers will have had to directly authorize the use of physical force for a specific reason or the assault must be in defense or protection of the law enforcement officer.

Choice of Evils or Justification

When an assault is a necessary emergency measure required to avoid imminent or private injury, the choice of evils defense may be used to justify the assault. For instance, if a person is crossing the street and does not see an oncoming car and you shove the person out of the way and it results in a sprained ankle, you may fight assault charges for making the emergency choice to assault the pedestrian to prevent them from being struck by the vehicle.

Duress

An affirmative defense of duress is used when the perpetrator was forced to commit a crime out of necessity or because there were no other legal means to handle a situation. Duress is present when a person is forced, against their will or at the threat of violence or death, to commit the crime, or if there is no alternative. For example, if a man is told that his wife will be sexually assaulted if he does not assault another person, he commits the assault under the duress. Or, if there is a fire and the only means of escape is blocked by a person, the assault will have taken place out of necessity and a duress defense can be used.

Entrapment

An entrapment defense is used when the perpetrator was tricked into committing the assault by law enforcement or was directly told that the assault was legal and that prosecution of the assault would be unfair. If the perpetrator would not have committed the assault without the pressure of law enforcement, and a reasonable person would believe the counsel of the officer, the perpetrator has a good case for an entrapment defense.

Lack of Intent to Cause Bodily Harm

An assault conviction is dependent on intent to harm the victim of the assault. If there is no intent to harm the victim, but it occurs accidentally or as a result of unintentional acts, an affirmative “lack of intent” defense can be used to decrease the charges and resulting punishment.

If you are charged with assault, of any kind, it is important that you request a criminal defense lawyer before discussing details of the incident with law enforcement. Conviction of assault can have a dramatic effect on your overall life including your job, relationships, and finances, in addition to potential jail time. Before you leave the fate of your future in the hands of a public defender, call the Law Offices of Murphy and Price for your consultation. Let us start building your defense today!

How Assault Charges Affect Your Military Career

Assault is a charge that can be tried in civilian criminal court in addition to a court-martial under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ). This could result in both military and civilian punishments being executed. For lesser assault charges, an Article 15 may be issued rather than a court-martial, whether you are charged and sentenced in civilian criminal court or not.

A guilty verdict for assault in either court system can have a dramatic negative impact on your military career and future as a civilian. Depending on the classification, it could result in you no longer being able to carry your assigned weapon or result in a dishonorable discharge. If you are able to stay in the military, it can impact your ability to remain qualified in your current MOS, rank, and position.

Before you face trial in either court system or accept an Article 15, contact a military practice lawyer that can help you have the defense you deserve. An experienced military defense attorney can help you prepare your case and negotiate outcomes.

How Assault Charges Affect Your Immigration Status

Immigrants living in the United States, whether legal resident, on visa, a naturalized citizen, or illegal, are expected to follow the same laws that American-born residents are. Breaking state or federal laws may put you at risk for denial of citizenship or removal from the country. Assault is considered a crime of moral turpitude that is grounds for denying residence requests, as well as the dismissal of legal resident status and deportation.

If you are an immigrant, do not leave your fate up to a public defender and unsympathetic judges. Hire an experienced immigration lawyer to build a defense that more accurately represents your case. A defense attorney can review your case to conduct an analysis of the supposed crime and help negotiate charges or pleas and sentencing. Contact the Law Offices of Murphy and Price for your consultation today.