The assault attorneys at Peakstone Law Group, LLC have decades of combined experience helping clients obtain the most favorable outcomes in criminal cases, including charges for assault. Whether in El Paso County, Teller County, Pueblo County, or the surrounding areas, the criminal defense lawyers at Peakstone Law Group, LLC have the experience and knowledge to help minimize the impact your criminal case will have on your life, job, career, and future.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our assault defense lawyer in Colorado Springs.
What Is Assault?
Colorado law provides numerous levels of assault charges, from simple assault to vehicular assault, and the penalties imposed for these charges range from a misdemeanor to more serious felony charges. In Colorado, third-degree assault is the least serious, followed by second-degree assault, and first-degree assault, which are both felonies and carry the harshest penalties. Colorado also has a vehicular assault statute that can apply when the actions of someone while driving cause serious bodily injury to another. We will examine these charges in detail below.
What is 3rd Degree Assault in Colorado?
Under section 18-3-204 (2020) of the Colorado criminal code, a person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if:
(a) The person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or with criminal negligence the person causes bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(b) causes a peace officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, or an emergency medical service provider, to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means, including throwing, tossing, or expelling the fluid or material.
(3) Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501(3).
What does that mean? Allow us to break down the language of the statute into bite-sized portions. Starting from the top, we see the terms “knowingly or recklessly,” which require some type of intentional act, not simply an accident that results in harm. Next, we have “bodily injury,” which simply means “physical pain.” Because the definition is so broad, including even very minor physical pain, many cases where there is any physical contact at all, even if it is minor, are charged as assaults. All that is needed is for the alleged victim to claim that the physical contact “hurt.”
What is 2nd Degree Assault in Colorado?
As stated in the Colorado statute, section 18-3-203: (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if:
(b) With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes such injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or […]
(d) He recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(e) he intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury to another person by administering to him, without his consent, a drug, substance, or preparation capable of producing the intended harm; or […]
(g) With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes bodily injury to that person or another; or
(2)(a) If assault in the second degree is committed under a sudden heat of passion, caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim, 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 6 felony.
(b) If assault in the second degree is committed without the circumstances provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), it is a class 4 felony.
What does that all mean? Essentially, second-degree assault is distinguishable from third-degree assault in the severity of the injury or the means used to inflict harm. There are references to “serious bodily injury” and the use of a deadly weapon. Section (e) outlaws “drugging” someone, a prominent example would be pouring a “date rape” drug into someone else’s beverage at a bar. Second-degree assault is also unique in that the statute provides for a “heat of passion” defense, meaning that if one was seriously provoked by another into committing an assault, and there was no time to cool off, the assault would be considered a class 6 felony. In the absence of a “heat of passion” defense, second-degree assault is a class 4 felony.
What is 1st Degree Assault in Colorado?
Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-202, a person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:
(1)(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, 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 […]
(2)(a) If assault in the first degree is committed under circumstances where the act of causing the injury is performed upon a sudden heat of passion, 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.
What does that mean? As we saw above, the difference between the various levels of assault charges is a reflection of the nature of the injuries and the actions that caused them. The more serious the injury, the more serious the charges. Whereas third-degree assault required only that someone be “hurt,” first-degree assault was designed to address more dangerous conduct: “deadly weapon,” “intent to disfigure,” and “extreme indifference to human life.” Similar to the 2nd-degree assault above, a “heat of passion” defense can reduce the charge from a class 3 felony to a class 5 felony.
Both Assault in the First Degree, as well as the Second Degree, are Crimes of Violence in Colorado – meaning they can result in years of mandatory time in the Department of Corrections, even on a first offense.
All felony assault charges are extremely serious and life-altering, and anyone charged with them should consult with an experienced assault defense lawyer in Colorado Springs as soon as possible.