As a Denver criminal defense lawyer, I know that assault charges come in many different packages.
Sometimes people don’t understand the difference between assault or self-defense. Sometimes what seems to be a petty crime on the surface is actually a serious felony.
Understanding the differences between the four types of assaults is crucial to building a solid defense. Here’s what you need to know about assault charges:
Petty assault. This Class 1 offense is typically reserved for lower-level incidents. It is tried in municipal court with a city attorney acting as the prosecutor. Petty assault is punishable by up to a year in county jail.
Third-degree assault. On the surface, it appears the same as a petty assault, however, this Class 1 misdemeanor includes an “extraordinary risk” crime. It is tried in county court with a district attorney prosecutor and is punishable by up to two years in county jail.
Second-degree assault. This more serious Class 4 felony involves either serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon. Considered a “crime of violence,” second-degree assault is tried in district court with a DA prosecuting and carries a mandatory 5- to a 16-year prison sentence.
First-degree assault. This Class 3 felony involves both serious bodily injury and the use of a deadly weapon. Tried in district court with a DA prosecutor, first-degree assault carries a mandatory 10 to 32 years in prison.
When an assault charge falls in the felony category, things get even more complicated. There are six classes of offenses, with penalties ranging from a year in prison and a year of parole to life in prison or death. Penalties also vary for assault-related sex crimes versus crimes of violence, and sentences may be increased based on criminal history.
The smartest way to navigate any criminal defense process involving the courts is to hire a qualified Denver assault attorney with direct experience in a range of assault cases.