The three different degrees of assault under Colorado law
This article provides a brief overview of the different assault charges in Colorado and their possible sentences.
Assault is a serious offense that results in bodily injury to another person. In Colorado, as in other states, the law differentiates between first degree, second degree, and third degree assault. Furthermore, there are other specific types of assault, such as vehicular assault and reckless endangerment. With so many different types of assault on the books, it can be bewildering for many people to understand what the differences are between, say, second and third degree assault. However, the differences are important to understand, especially since the penalties for each type of assault vary widely. Below is a look at the three degrees of assault in Colorado.
Assault in the first degree
This is the most serious form of assault. For a first degree assault conviction, it must be proven that the accused not only caused serious bodily harm to another person but that he or she intended to do so. Assault in the first degree is a very serious felony offense that can be punished by up to 24 years’ imprisonment as well as fines of up to $750,000.
Assault in the second degree
Assault in the second degree is also a felony offense, but it is punishable by up to 12 years in prison and $500,000 in fines. To be convicted of second degree assault it must be proven that the accused intended to cause bodily harm (rather than serious bodily harm) or recklessly caused serious bodily harm.
Assault in the third degree
Third degree assault is a misdemeanor that is punishable by up to six months in prison. Third degree assault occurs when the accused did not intend to cause bodily harm, but did so recklessly or negligently through the use of a deadly weapon.
Other types of assault
There are other types of assault, including vehicular assault, reckless endangerment, or assault on an elderly person. These types of assault apply to specific circumstances and can range in severity from misdemeanors to felonies.
Defending against assault charges
Given that the penalties for assault can range from a few months in prison to 24 years, it is clear that one needs to take these charges seriously. There are ways to defend oneself against a charge of assault. For example, a person cannot be convicted of assault if they acted in self-defense or under duress. Likewise, if there was no intent to cause harm then a first degree assault conviction is not possible and is also very difficult in cases of second degree assault.
Regardless of whether one is facing third degree or first degree assault charges, it is important to talk to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. A conviction can mean not just prison time, but a criminal record that could hinder one’s job, housing, and educational prospects for years into the future. An experienced attorney can help clients defend themselves against these charges or with any other legal issues they may have.