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CRS 18-3-202

Colorado First-Degree Assault

Assault in the first degree, or CRS 18-3-202 in Colorado, is typically a Class 3 felony punishable by 10–32 years in jail and $3,000–$75,000 in fines. In Colorado, willfully and severely injuring another person while using force—often a lethal weapon—is considered a first-degree assault.

Let’s face it. Life happens.

No one wants to get in trouble, but when it happens, what do you do?

If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, the best decision you can make is to
hire a good criminal defense attorney. With the right defense lawyer in your corner, you
will be advised and guided towards the best outcome for your case.

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Penalties for First-Degree Assault in Colorado

Charge Classification Penalty
First-Degree Assault Class 2 (crimes of violence)
  • 16–48 years in prison
  • A fine of $5,000–$1 million
First-Degree Assault Class 2 felony (other than crimes of violence)
  • 8–24 years in prison
  • A fine of $5,000–$1 million
First-Degree Assault Class 3 felony (crimes of violence)
  • Up to 32 years in prison
  • A fine of $3,000–$750,000
First-Degree Assault Class 3 felony (extraordinary risk of harm crimes)
  • 4–16 years in prison
  • A fine of 3,000–$750,000
First-Degree Assault Class 3 felony (all other Class 3 felonies)
  • 4–12 years in prison
  • A fine of $3,000–$750,000
(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-202 )

Possible Defenses for First-Degree Assault in Colorado

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For the prosecution to be successful, the following must be proven:

  • Intentional infliction of serious bodily harm upon another person.
  • Intent to harm another with the use of a deadly weapon.

Bearing the elements in mind, defenses to first-degree assault seek to mitigate any one of them.

Depending on the facts, here are a few potential defenses.

No Intention

The prosecution must establish the intention for the injury inflicted. This is a crucial component of first-degree assault. Lower charges may result if you show that you did not intend to harm the victim seriously.

No Serious Bodily Injury

Charges under CRS 18-3-202 require serious bodily injury. Your criminal defense attorney can lessen the consequences of a conviction if you can demonstrate that the injury was not severe.

The Heat of Passion Defense

Using this defense under CRS 18-3-202 (2)(a), defendants can argue that a sudden fit of rage solely prompted their actions. Your Colorado criminal defense attorney will have to prove that there was not enough time between the alleged victim’s provocation and the injury for you to cool off and that this provocation would have generated an uncontrollable passion in any reasonable person.

Colorado Revised Statutes, CRS 18-3-202:

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18-3-202. Assault in the first degree.

(1) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:

(a) With intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or

(b) With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate, or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person; or

(c) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury to any person; or

(d) Repealed.

(e) With intent to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider, he or she threatens with a deadly weapon a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider acting in the performance of his or her duties; or

(e.5) With intent to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court, he threatens with a deadly weapon a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court; or

(f) While lawfully confined or in custody as a result of being charged with or convicted of a crime or as a result of being charged as a delinquent child or adjudicated as a delinquent child and with intent to cause serious bodily injury to a person employed by or under contract with a detention facility, as defined in section 18-8-203 (3), or to a person employed by the division in the department of human services responsible for youth services and who is a youth services counselor or is in the youth services worker classification series, he or she threatens with a deadly weapon such a person engaged in the performance of his or her duties and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is such a person engaged in the performance of his or her duties while employed by or under contract with a detention facility or while employed by the division in the department of human services responsible for youth services. A sentence imposed pursuant to this paragraph (f) shall be served in the department of corrections and shall run consecutively with any sentences being served by the offender. A person who participates in a work release program, a furlough, or any other similar authorized supervised or unsupervised absence from a detention facility, as defined in section 18-8-203 (3), and who is required to report back to the detention facility at a specified time shall be deemed to be in custody.

(g) With the intent to cause serious bodily injury, he or she applies sufficient pressure to impede or restrict the breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying such pressure to the neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person and thereby causes serious bodily injury.

(2)

(a) If assault in the first degree is committed under circumstances where the act causing the injury is performed upon a sudden heat of passion, caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim, affecting the person causing the injury sufficiently to excite an irresistible passion in a reasonable person, and without an interval between the provocation and the injury sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, it is a class 5 felony.

(b) If assault in the first degree is committed without the circumstances provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), it is a class 3 felony.

(c) If a defendant is convicted of assault in the first degree pursuant to subsection (1) of this section, the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with the provisions of section 18-1.3-406.

(d) Repealed.

(e) For purposes of determining sudden heat of passion pursuant to subsection (2)(a) of this section, a defendant’s act does not constitute an act performed upon a sudden heat of passion if it results solely from the discovery of, knowledge about, or potential disclosure of the victim’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, including but not limited to under circumstances in which the victim made an unwanted nonforcible romantic or sexual advance toward the defendant.

(3) Repealed.

Have you been charged with or arrested for first-degree assault in Colorado Springs or El Paso County?

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You should be aware that this is a serious offense, with jail time and even prison as a potential penalty. The prosecutor must persuade the jury that you intentionally hurt another person and caused serious bodily injury for you to be found guilty. You must be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt for a jury to find you guilty of a crime. This charge may be defended in various ways, for as by mistaken identity or self-defense. Still, you must comprehend how the law applies and what the El Paso County District Attorney must prove to defend you against a charge of first-degree assault successfully. Contact a Colorado criminal defense attorney at Right Law for advice on how to proceed.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What if I acted in self-defense?

Self-defense is a complete defense to a first-degree assault charge. If your Colorado criminal defense attorney can establish this defense, you will altogether escape the charge.

What if I threw the first punch in a fight?

You can only justify using self-defense after you initiated the altercation if you leave the situation after effectively communicating your desire to do so and the aggressor keeps attacking. In other words, if you attempt to leave the situation and the other person follows you and continues to attack, then you may be authorized to act in self defense.

Is there a defense available if I was just angry in the moment?

A Class 5 felony, punishable by one to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections and a minimum sentence of $1,000, might be charged if there is evidence that the attack occurred in the heat of passion.

Areas Served

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El Paso County

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Arapahoe County

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Pueblo County

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