December 1, 2022
The year 2020 has been a long one already. Violence has all but dominated the news cycle in one way or another. It’s not just the news media covering negativity, though. According to Denver’s most recent crime report, assault is up 23 percent in 2020.
Moreover, assault isn’t the only violent crime on the rise, either. Colorado’s rate of aggravated assault is the highest it’s been since 2011. Acts of assault are not only becoming more common, these acts are seemingly also getting worse.
To understand what this means for our community, it’s helpful to understand how Colorado defines and penalizes assault.
What Acts Are Considered Assault in Colorado
There are several different types of assault outlined in Colorado’s lawbooks. Standard assault is defined by causing someone bodily harm or otherwise recklessly behaving in a way that causes someone bodily harm.
Specific laws are included in the statute about two additional offenses. They are vehicular assault, or harming someone or intending to harm them purposefully with a vehicle, and assault on the elderly or disabled.
All assault crimes are classified as one of three degrees, or levels of severity. Colorado has first, second, and third-degree assault charges on the books. They are described as follows:
- Third-degree assault applies to cases where someone unintentionally but recklessly causes someone else bodily injury.
- Second-degree assault applies to cases where someone intends to cause another person’s bodily injury or recklessly causes someone else serious bodily injury.
- First-degree assault is the most serious charge, and it applies to someone who intended to cause another person serious bodily harm.
You’ll notice that the difference between some of these charges is whether harm is “serious” or not. Bodily injury is any type of harm, essentially. Harm can be anything from bruises to broken limbs. Serious bodily injury, on the other hand, is generally considered any injury that carries permanent disfigurement, risk of death, or permanent or long-term loss of function.
Penalties for Colorado Assault Convictions
The penalties for assault depend on the severity of the charges. More significant charges carry heavier penalties.
- Third-degree assault is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, which carries up to 24 months in prison and fines of up to $5000.
- Vehicular assault is also a Class 5 felony, subject to penalties include up to 3 years in prison and fines. If the vehicular assault occurs while the driver is under the influence, it becomes a Class 4 felony similar to second-degree assault.
- Second-degree assault is a Class 4 felony, which carries up to six years in prison and fines up to $500,000. If the second-degree assault included a deadly weapon or serious injury, the prison sentence can increase to 16 years.
- First-degree assault is a Class 3 felony, carrying up to 32 years in prison and fines up to $750,000.
Judges will consider aggravating and mitigating factors when assigning penalties for assault in Colorado. Mitigating factors, which can reduce your sentence, include:
- Committing the assault “in the heat of passion.”
- A lack of intent to cause harm
On the other hand, aggravating factors can increase the penalties you face. These include:
- Use of a deadly weapon
- Proof of planning an assault in advance
- Assaulting an elderly person or a public servant
- Intending to cause serious harm or death
Assault is on the rise in Denver and Colorado as a whole. It’s more important than ever to understand how assault is charged and penalized. If you have been accused of assault, don’t hesitate to reach out to a qualified assault attorney. They can help you understand your rights and form your defense without confusion.
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 recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020 and is Lead Counsel rated.