In a physical confrontation, there’s a fine line in the difference between assault and self-defense, but the distinction is critically important since the punishment for even a misdemeanor assault charge (3rd-degree assault) can bring jail time.
The best way to explain the distinction between assault vs. self-defense is to describe the types of actions that are legally considered self-defense, realizing that if the physical encounter doesn’t fall within those boundaries, it could be considered assault.
If you have any questions about representation in an assault or self-defense matter in Denver or the surrounding counties, don’t hesitate to call Wolf Law today at (720) 479-8574 and talk with an assault defense lawyer.
Colorado’s self-defense laws allow people to:
- Defend a person (yourself or another person) from physical force; however, the use of deadly force is only allowed if it appears the attacker may seriously assault, kidnap, or sexually assault the person.
- Defend themselves within their own residence. Known as the “Make My Day Law,” in this case the use of deadly force is allowed as long as it appears that intruder might commit a crime (including robbery) and that the intruder might use physical force. This right to use deadly force is only allowed inside the residence. If the intruder is on the porch, at the door, in the yard or has left the premises, the relatively low threshold that allows for use of deadly force under Make My Day is no longer in effect.
- Defend a premises or other property (other than their home which is covered in #2). The ability to use deadly force in this environment comes with the same restrictions as in #1.
Most other physical altercations between people could be considered assault but in a different post, we list out some different scenarios on what could be assault or self-defense.
If you are charged with assault in Colorado, you may be charged with one of three levels:
- 3rd-degree assault, a misdemeanor, is knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to someone. The standard for bodily injury is very low—causing momentary pain could be included in the definition.
- 2nd-degree assault, a felony, is either assault using a deadly weapon or causing serious bodily injury. In some circumstances, a punch or a kick could be considered an assault.
- 1st-degree assault, is causing serious bodily injury, much like 2nd-degree assault, however, the bodily injury is inflicted through the use of a deadly weapon.
For both 1st and 2nd Degree assaults (collectively referred to as “crimes of violence”) the intent to cause injury must be proven. Self-defense is one possible defense that can be used in these cases.
Also, proving that the attack was a “crime of passion” committed in the “heat of the moment” could be a mitigating factor that could lessen the charge. However, if convicted of 1st or 2nd-degree assault there are mandatory prison sentences of 10-32 years under 1st degree and 5-16 years for 2nd-degree charges.
In conclusion, self-defense and assault are two very different concepts. Self-defense refers to the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or others from harm or danger. The key element of self-defense is that it is a reactive action, taken in response to a threat or attack. In contrast, assault is the intentional use of force against another person without their consent. The key element of assault is that it is a proactive action, taken with the intention to harm or intimidate another person. In self-defense, the use of force is justifiable and necessary to protect oneself or others, while in assault, the use of force is unjustifiable and illegal. The distinction between self-defense and assault is an important one, as it determines whether the use of force is legal or illegal, and whether a person will face criminal charges or not.
If you’ve been arrested for assault or have been involved in a self-defense altercation in the Denver area, you need expert legal guidance. Wolf Law has experienced criminal defense attorneys serving Coloradans facing criminal charges. Contact Wolf Law today for a free consultation.