Criminal assault in Colorado is a serious offense. If you are charged, it is essential that you retain an experienced Durango assault defense attorney to mount a zealous defense on your behalf. At Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt, we have significant experience in criminal defense, and assault is one of the crimes we regularly defend. We serve clients in Colorado cities including Durango, Pagosa Springs, Cortez, and Ignacio.Types of Assault in Colorado
A prosecutor can charge three different degrees of assault from the most serious (first degree) to the least serious (third degree). While the penalties for first degree assault and second degree assault are much higher than those for third degree assault, any assault conviction can lead to harsh consequences.
Third degree assault is a class 1 misdemeanor charged when someone causes physical injury or pain to somebody else. The defendant’s state of mind must be either “knowing” or “reckless.” This type of assault is often charged in situations involving physical fights that don't leave a long-lasting injury but cause pain. A common example is domestic violence, when a wife says her husband pushed her or a husband says the wife punched him. It is possible to be sentenced to two years in county jail for third-degree assault. Other factors will also enter into the equation, including whether it was a first offense and whether there were aggravating or mitigating factors.
Second-degree assault is defined as a group of different harmful actions. You can be charged with second-degree assault if you:
- Use a deadly weapon to intentionally cause physical injury
- Use a deadly weapon to recklessly cause serious physical injury
- Cause serious physical injury with intent to cause physical injury
- Intentionally stop a police officer of firefighter from doing his job and cause physical injury
- Knowingly use violence on a police officer, firefighter, prison guard, or judge while he or she is performing job duties
- Intentionally drug someone without permission
The first four types of second-degree assault are considered "crimes of violence." If convicted, you will be sentenced to a mandatory minimum prison term of five years.
First-degree assault can be charged if you intended to cause a grave physical injury to somebody else and actually do hurt another person, or if you intended to disfigure or disable somebody else. It also may be charged if you knowingly acted to create a serious risk of death without caring about human life and caused a grave physical injury, or if you threatened a police officer, judge, firefighter, or prison worker with intent to cause grave physical injury to somebody else. The mandatory minimum sentence for first-degree assault is 10 years.
If you are provoked by the victim in either first- or second-degree assault, the doctrine of “heat of passion” comes into play. The prosecutor may file the charge as a class 5 felony, which reduces the possible sentence. However, if there is no heat of passion, first-degree assault will always be considered a crime of violence.
In Colorado, our state constitution specifically recognizes that our citizens have natural essential and inalienable rights including defending their lives and liberties. It is therefore an affirmative defense to the crime of assault that a person reasonably believes that another has or is about to use unlawful physical force.Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney in Durango
Assault is a serious crime in Colorado, but there are a number of defenses that may be raised on your behalf. If you are charged, you should consult an experienced Durango criminal defense lawyer who can build and mount the strongest possible legal case on your behalf. Contact the law firm of Greenberg, McGuinness & Alt. Our office serves La Plata County, Archuleta County, Montezuma County, and the Southern Ute Tribal Court jurisdiction. Call us today at (970) 259-4422, or fill out our online form to set up a free initial consultation.