Traditionally, assault is a perceived threat to another person. In Denver, Colorado, an assault is defined as unlawful contact that results in an injury to another person.
These offenses can be treated as a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the severity of actions taken and who was involved. In any case, if you’ve been charged with assault, contacting a Colorado criminal defense attorney at Wolf Law LLC can help.
Levels of Assault
- First Degree
First degree assault is the most serious assault offense a person can commit. Colorado defines this as when an individual causes intentional and serious harm to another, with a deadly weapon.
The distinction is that “serious” injury carries potential risk for death, disfigurement, or permanent bodily impairment and is done with “extreme indifference to the value of human life.” In many cases, it involves aggressive action being taken against a police officer or first responder.
Assault in Colorado is considered a crime of violence. This means the judge overseeing the case is required to sentence the defendant at the midpoint of the presumptive range to twice the maximum of the presumptive range, which translates to 10-32 years.
- Second Degree
Second degree assault involves intentional injury to another but can also involve causing injury to a police officer or any activity preventing police from doing their duty. Intentional use of a deadly weapon can fall under second degree assault, as can recklessly causing injury to another or using a substance to drug another person without their consent.
Like first degree, second degree assault is a felony. Since it is also a crime of violence the same sentencing rules as in a first degree assault case apply. The judge is required to hand down a sentence at the midpoint of the presumptive range but no more than twice the possible time, in the case of second degree assault that’s 5-16 years.
- Third Degree
Third degree assault is the least severe of the three. It’s committed when a person knowingly, recklessly, or negligently causes harm to another person using a deadly weapon. Annoying, threatening, or harassing a police officer can also qualify as a third degree assault.
Third degree assault is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor of extraordinary risk, carrying a possible sentence of 6-24 months. If the assault is against a police officer, first responder, pregnant woman, or at risk adult, the six month sentencing minimum is mandatory.
Convictions: Misdemeanor Vs Felony
In Colorado, misdemeanors are labeled as either Class 1, 2, or 3 and carry sentences of 18 months or less in local or county jail plus the potential for fines.
- Class 1: The most serious misdemeanor, sentences can include 6-18 months in jail, fines of $500-$5,000, or a combination thereof.
- Class 2: Defendants may face 3-12 months in jail, a fine of $250-$1,000, or both.
- Class 3: The least serious misdemeanor, defendants may face up to 6 months in jail, fines ranging from $50-$750, or a mixture of the two.
In some less severe cases, those charged may be released on probation. For misdemeanors deemed as presenting “an extraordinary risk of harm to society,” sentences are increased by an additional six months.
It is important to note that Colorado’s statute of limitations on misdemeanors is 18 months. Meaning if the state has not begun prosecution within that time frame, the defendant can move to have the case dismissed.
Felonies are much more serious than misdemeanors and are punishable by a minimum of one year in prison. There are a total of six felony classes, ranging in severity and punishable by multiple years in state or federal prison and/or crippling fines.
- Class 1: The highest level felony in Colorado, punishable by a life sentence and in some cases, the death penalty.
- Class 2: Sentences for Class 2 felonies can include between 8-24 years in prison and/or fines ranging from $5,000 to $1,000,000.
- Class 3: Those charged with a Class 3 felony could serve 4-12 years in prison or be forced to pay fines between $3,000-$750,000.
- Class 4: Fines for Class 4 felonies can range from $2,000-$500,000 and carry prison sentences of 2-6 years.
- Class 5: If a Class 5 felony has been committed, defendants can face 1-3 years in prison and fines from $1,000-$100,000.
- Class 6: The least of the felony classes, those convicted can serve 1-1.5 years in prison and pay fines from $1,000-$100,000.
The statute of limitations for most felonies in Colorado is either three or five years from the date the crime was committed. But in serious cases like murder, kidnapping, or sex crimes, the state is not bound by a statute of limitations and can begin prosecution at any point.
Charges Associated with Assault
There are a number of charges that can be associated with assault. Any number of additional charges can be made, depending on how the crime was committed. Though these are not all of the possible accompanying charges, there are a few that are commonly coupled with assault:
- Crime of Passion: A crime of passion significantly increases the charges placed on the defendant. An example would be assault performed as revenge for wrongdoing/unfaithfulness inside of a relationship, either romantic or otherwise.
- Assault with a Deadly Weapon: This is added to an assault charge when the crime involves a gun, knife, or any object designed with the purpose of injuring or killing another person.
- Assaulting a Police Officer: As it sounds, this is applied when an assault involves a police officer or similarly protected state or federal employee.
- Vehicular Assault: When a vehicle is used in addition to, or in place of, a deadly weapon, the charge is adjusted to include vehicular assault. Often, reckless driving is an added charge as well.
- Aggravated Assault: This is a distinction made based on the level of assault. Both first and second degree assault charges have the potential to be labeled aggravated assault.
- Domestic Assault: When assault is carried out against a spouse, family member, or resident of the defendant’s household, it is classified as domestic assault. The most common example of this is domestic abuse.
- Municipal Assault: A lesser form of assault that carries a potential sentence of six months to one year in jail and/or fines up to $500.
- Battery/Menacing: In Colorado, the term “menacing” is applied to situations in lieu of labeling them as “battery.” Menacing is when a person puts another in fear of being hurt or brandishes an item meant to look like a deadly weapon.
- Manslaughter: This is defined as when a person recklessly causes the death of another. It can also apply if that person intentionally caused or aided another in committing suicide. In some cases, usually those involving negligence, manslaughter can be a byproduct of an assault.
- Harassment: Hitting, kicking, shoving, touching (without consent), obscene language/gestures, stalking, and threatening are all possible forms of harassment. To further complicate things, harassment doesn’t have to happen in person, frequently occurring over the phone, via email, or through social media.
Why Contact Wolf Law LLC.
An assault charge can quickly spin out of control. We specialize in assisting in defending individuals who have been charged with criminal activity. If you enter into this process alone, you risk losing the protection that’s provided to you through the law.
Protecting you is our job. We know the ins and outs of Colorado law. We know how to conduct research and will work to gather evidence that helps your case. We’re master negotiators with experience in all levels of assault charges. Whether a municipal, misdemeanor, felony assault charge, we’ll do our best to find a solution for your case.
Contact one of the criminal defense lawyers at Wolf Law LLC today to schedule a free consultation.