If you physically harm another person, you may be charged with a criminal offense under Colorado law. While this seems relatively straightforward, Colorado’s physical assault laws are quite complex. For example, in some situations, if you cause a public official to come into contact with your bodily fluids, you could be charged with assault.
Understanding Colorado’s physical assault laws is an important part of protecting your rights. At McCabe Law, we believe that every person should be educated about the law — and that each of us deserves the best possible defense if charged with a criminal offense.
Our firm is dedicated to defending clients against Colorado criminal charges. We pride ourselves on our aggressive negotiation strategy, readiness for trial, and our dedication and personal attention to each individual client. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with a Boulder physical assault defense lawyer, contact our firm today at 720-328-0739 or email us to schedule a consultation.
How Is Assault Defined in Colorado?
In Colorado, a physical assault occurs when you knowingly, recklessly or intentionally cause bodily injury to another person. It is defined by degree (first, second, or third) based on your intent, the severity of the injury, whether you used a deadly weapon, and the identity of the victim. If the victim was a first responder, a judge or an employee of a prison or jail, it will increase the level of the charge.
Under the law, a deadly weapon includes a firearm, a knife, and any other weapon or device that can be used to cause death or serious bodily injury.
Bodily injury is defined as physical pain, illness or any impairment of physical or mental condition. A serious bodily injury is one that involves a substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures or burns of the second or third degree.
First degree assault is the most serious level and can be charged when you
- Intend to disfigure another person and do so – such as causing scars or permanent disability
- cause serious bodily injury to another person with extreme indifference to the value of human life
- cause serious bodily injury with the use of a deadly weapon
- with the intent to cause serious bodily injury, you choke another person
- or threaten a public official with a deadly weapon with the intent to cause serious bodily injury
Second degree assault charges are more common than first, and include:
- intentionally drugging another person against their will
- causing bodily injury and intending to do so
- causing serious bodily injury without a deadly weapon – such as getting into a bar fight and while using your fists you break the other person’s nose
- threatening a public official with an intent to cause serious bodily injury while lawfully confined in a jail or prison; or you knowingly or violently apply physical force against a public official while doing their job; or cause them to come into contact with bodily fluids to infect, injure, harm, harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm them
Finally, Colorado prosecutors can charge assault in the third degree if you knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person. This can include slapping, shoving, or hitting another person.
Penalties for the Crime of Assault in Colorado
In Colorado, there are harsh penalties for physical assault convictions. Depending on the degree of the assault and the level of violence used, you may be facing a significant amount of time in jail or prison and a hefty fine.
First-degree assault is considered a “crime of violence,” and is a felony offense. Crimes of violence are usually subject to stiffer penalties as compared to non-violent crimes. For assault in the first degree, the punishment may include between 10 and 32 years in prison, and/or a fine of between $3,000 and $750,000.
Second-degree assault is also a felony offense. If you use a deadly weapon during an assault, it is considered a crime of violence, which will result in a sentence enhancement. A sentence for non-violent second-degree assault may include a sentence of between 2 and 6 years in prison and $2,000 to $500,000 in fines, while a violent crime enhancement will result in a sentence of between 5 and 16 years in prison.
Third-degree assault in Colorado is charged as a misdemeanor. However, it is an “extraordinary risk” crime, which means that anyone convicted of this offense may be subjected to an additional 6 months in jail rather than the standard misdemeanor penalty of up to 18 months. A potential sentence for this crime includes between 6 and 24 months in jail and a fine of between $500 and $5,000.
Possible Defenses to Physical Assault Charges
As with all criminal cases, the defense to a Colorado assault charge will depend on the facts of the case. For example, if you were acting in self-defense or in defense of another person, your attorney may be able to use that fact to argue that you are not guilty of a crime.
There are a number of other potential defenses that may be used depending on the specific charge. Consider a situation where you were charged with assaulting a person with a deadly weapon, and that deadly weapon was actually your bag that you swung at someone. Your lawyer may be able to argue that the bag was not actually a deadly weapon — and the charge should be reduced or dismissed.
A defense may also rest on your intent. If you did not intend to hurt someone, and an injury happened by accident, that could be a way to defend against the charges. Similarly, if you did not act knowingly or recklessly, that may defeat a Colorado assault charge. Your attorney will thoroughly investigate your case to develop a strong factual and legal defense to the charge or charges against you.
How a Boulder Physical Assault Defense Lawyer Can Help
Colorado’s assault laws are complex, and require the assistance of an attorney who has in-depth knowledge of both the laws and how they are applied. As a former public defender with nearly 20 years of experience in criminal defense work, lawyer Janene K. McCabe has the skill and the ability to defend Coloradans against all degrees of physical assault charges.
Based in Boulder, McCabe Law works with clients throughout Colorado. We serve clients in Boulder, Broomfield, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson, Larimer, Weld, and Denver Counties. If you have been charged with any degree of assault in Colorado, contact our firm today at 720-328-0739 or online to schedule a consultation with a seasoned Boulder physical assault defense lawyer.