Different Types of Assault Charges in Colorado

types of assault

If you or a loved one have been accused of assault in Colorado, you need a nuanced understanding of the various charges classified under state law in order to mount the strongest legal defense.

With penalties ranging from fines to lengthy prison sentences depending on severity and circumstances, it is critical to analyze the details of allegations under the guidance of an experienced local criminal defense attorney.

This article will provide an overview of classifications of assault offenses under Colorado Revised Statutes, alongside their respective definitions, penalties, and potential defenses. Consider this a primer empowering smart legal strategies if facing assault charges.

Defining Assault: Understanding the Core Allegation

At its most basic level, assault entails actions intended to inflict bodily injury on another person without their consent. Threatening bodily harm also meets the criteria for the baseline charge.

But beyond that common denominator, assault classifications diverge significantly in terms of severity, evidence, penalties, and defenses based on specific circumstances.

Third Degree Assault Allegations

The lowest level assault allegation police issue falls under the legal category of third-degree assault or “simple assault” per C.R.S. 18-3-204.

Defined as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily harm to another person OR causing serious bodily injury to another person with criminal negligence using a deadly weapon, third-degree assault also covers attempts to harm someone.

Simple assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado, carrying:

  • Up to 18 months in jail
  • Fines up to $1,000

Proving no intention to harm the accuser can help beat allegations. Lacking visible injury often undermines the prosecution’s case as well.

Assault in the Second Degree Ups Severity

Here, charges escalate further under C.R.S. 18-3-203, covering attacks causing serious bodily injury, potentially with a deadly weapon or assault on a first responder.

Second-degree assault is always charged as a felony; however, depending on the circumstances, it may be a Class 4 or Class 6 Felony, punishable by:

  • Up to 6 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $500,000

Again, self-defense serves as an affirmative defense if actions prove unavoidable to prevent harm.

Additionally, your defense attorney may be able to assert a “heat of passion” defense. This requires proving that a reasonable person would have felt irresistibly motivated to act in response to the victim’s highly provocative actions and that you did not have enough time to cool off before you injured the victim.

First Degree Assault Allegations Ramp Up Severity

When bodily harm results from extreme indifference or in tandem with possession of a deadly weapon, charges escalate to assault in the first degree under C.R.S. 18-3-202.

First-degree assault can be charged as a Class 2 or 3 felony, punishable by:

  • Up to 48 years in prison
  • Fines of up to $1 million

Examples of first-degree assault include randomly firing a gun into an occupied building, demonstrating such indifference by amplifying the likelihood of injury without regard for consequences.

Additionally, introducing anything legally considered a deadly weapon when causing any physical injury can trigger first-degree assault charges. This includes firearms, knives, brass knuckles, clubs, etc.

Defenses to first-degree assault allegations require proving:

  • You lacked intent to harm the alleged victim
  • The alleged victim did not sustain serious bodily injuries
  • You acted in a heat of passion

The evidentiary bar to beat first-degree charges stands extremely high, however.

Vehicular Assault Charges Add Complexity

Operating vehicles recklessly resulting in injuries triggers specialized vehicular assault statutes in Colorado per C.R.S. 18-3-205. Intoxication while driving enhances penalties further, alongside hit-and-run scenarios.

Vehicular assault can be charged as a Class 4 or 5 felony, punishable by:

  • Up to 6 years in prison
  • Up to $500,000 in fines
  • 2-3 years of mandatory parole

Defenses against vehicular assault center on arguments like you weren’t drinking and driving, the alleged victim did not sustain serious bodily injuries, or that the injuries were caused by something else.

Retaining Experienced Legal Counsel is Critical

In almost all assault accusations, working with an attorney intimately familiar with Colorado statutes, case law, and local courts is vital. As illustrated throughout this article, subtle factors unique to each allegation make an immense impact.

An attorney’s responsibilities include tasks like:

  • Investigation and Evidence Gathering — Professionally examining circumstances to locate witnesses, physical proof of harm committed, paper trails, etc., builds a foundation.
  • Charge Assessment and Defense Formulation — Determining specific statutes violated and categorized severity level. Then, construct best-fit affirmative defenses around identified proof points.
  • Plea Negotiations — Leveraging case weaknesses to bargain charges down to lesser offenses through alternating carrot/stick approaches with prosecutors.
  • Trial and Sentencing Guidance — Should pleas fail and cases run fully through court, preparing testimony, jury instructions, and arguments, ensuring the most favorable outcome possible. Then, post-verdict counseling around potential appellate options if necessary.

Facing assault charges can be scary for anyone. However, working with experienced lawyers who understand how prosecutors operate can help you make wise choices instead of panicking about the unknown.

Reach Out for Criminal Defense Counsel Today

If assault claims have you or someone you love bracing for catastrophic consequences, contact our office immediately.

Once those charges are filed, the clock starts running to begin building your defense strategy. The sooner we talk, the better. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Author Bio

alexis austin

Alexis Austin is the CEO and Managing Partner of Right Law Group, a criminal defense law firm she founded in 2018, with convenient locations in Colorado Springs, Castle Rock and Highlands Ranch. With almost a decade of experience in criminal defense, she has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including DUIs, misdemeanors, felonies, domestic violence, and other criminal charges.

Alexis received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver — Sturm College of Law and is a member of the Colorado Bar Association. She has received numerous accolades for her work, including being named among the “Top 40 Under 40” in 2018 by The National Trial Lawyers and featured in Authority Magazine’s “Top Lawyers” series.

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