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Have you ever read or watched a story on the news and thought to yourself, “What is our country coming to?” The numerous stories out there about recent clown sightings have had a lot of people around the nation shaking their heads.
Here’s what’s been happening. For a few months now, people have been reporting creepy clown sightings. And it’s not just the fact that people dressed as clowns are creeping people out. In some stories, the clowns have attempted to lure children into secluded areas. In others, individuals have been assaulted by these clowns.
Whether you are living in Pennsylvania, South Carolina, or Colorado, you may have seen stories or warnings about these creepy clowns. It’s gotten so big that many professional clowns have even weighed in, begging for understanding that not all clowns are evil and creepy.
If that isn’t your worst nightmare, we don’t know what is.
So it’s not particularly surprising that a man in Colorado Springs recently vented his frustration by assaulting a clown who he thought was behaving in a strange manner. This is bad enough by itself, but things only got worse from there.
Earlier this month, a couple was taking a bike ride along Garden of the Gods Road in Colorado Springs. They saw two men dressed as clowns and wearing masks.
This would be understandably frightening for anyone out enjoying a bike ride – especially when the masked men started to walk toward the couple. The husband asked one of the men wearing masks who he was, but did not get a response. So the husband became angry and punched that man in the face.
He responded by punching the husband and knocking him to the ground. The two men dressed as clowns then proceeded to beat the husband with glass bottles, hitting a big vein in his head and almost severing his ear off.
While being transported and treated for minor injuries in the hospital, the husband also allegedly tried to fight hospital staff.
This was the first clown-related incident that the Colorado Springs Police Department has seen. However, with clown costume sales up 300% (and Halloween right around the corner), it may not be the last.
Yes, these clown sightings are scary and potentially threatening. Self-defense may be a valid excuse for committing assault, but not always. In a situation like the one above, you could potentially argue self-defense for both the husband and the clowns. After all, the husband did attack first.
And the penalties for assault may not be worth defending yourself from a potential threat unless you truly believe your life to be in grave danger.
In Colorado, there are three degrees of assault charges, which can result in different types of felony or misdemeanor penalties. Let’s break them down.
Third Degree Assault – The least severe assault charge is third degree assault. If you cause bodily injury to another person knowingly, recklessly, or through negligence, you may be charged with third degree assault.
This is a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado. However, if the assault was against a peace officer or public employee, the sentence and charges may be harsher.
First and Second Degree Assault – If someone intentionally causes bodily harm, often through the use of a deadly weapon, they may face felony charges of first or second degree assault. These charges are serious, but can be mitigated if the defense can prove that the incident in question was a “crime of passion,” meaning it was committing in the heat of the moment, as the response to intense emotions.
First degree assault is generally charged as a class 3 felony, though if it is deemed a crime of passion, it is considered a class 5 felony. This type of charge is also labeled a “crime of violence,” which requires the judge to sentence the defendant to jail time. The recommended sentencing for class 3 felonies is 4-12 years in prison.
Second degree assault is generally a class 4 felony, though if it is deemed a crime of passion, it is considered a class 6 felony.
And as above, if the assault is conducted against a peace officer or public employee, the sentencing will be much harsher than the recommended amount.
Even if no one had been physically attacked in the Colorado Springs incident, the men dressed as clowns could have still been arrested for menacing. Similar to what is commonly known as “battery” charges, menacing does not require physical contact. It just requires the threat of physical action or harm to another person.
This charge is typically a class 3 misdemeanor, but the presence of a deadly weapon (the glass bottles held by the men dressed as clowns could be argued to be a deadly weapon) bumps the charge up to a class 5 felony.
As we mentioned earlier, self-defense may or may not be a good defense strategy for an assault charge. If you have been charged with assault or menacing, it is important that you contact a assault defense lawyer to protect your rights and fight for a positive outcome.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.