The assault attorneys at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC have decades of combined experience helping clients obtain the most favorable outcomes in criminal cases, including charges for assault. Whether in El Paso County, Teller County, Pueblo County, or the surrounding areas, the criminal defense lawyers at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC have the experience and knowledge to help minimize the impact your criminal case will have on your life, job, career and future.
Contact us today to schedule a free initial consultation with our assault defense lawyer in Colorado Springs.
What Is Assault?
Colorado law provides numerous levels of assault charges, from simple assault to vehicular assault, and the penalties imposed for these charges range from a misdemeanor to more serious felony charges. In Colorado, third degree assault is the least serious, followed by second degree assault, and first degree assault, which are both felonies and carry the harshest penalties. Colorado also has a vehicular assault statute can apply when the actions of someone while driving cause serious bodily injury to another. We will examine these charges in detail below.
What is 3rd Degree Assault?
Under section 18-3-204 (2020) of the Colorado criminal code, a person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if:
(a) The person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or with criminal negligence the person causes bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(b) causes a peace officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, or an emergency medical service provider, to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means, including throwing, tossing, or expelling the fluid or material.
(3) Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to the modified sentencing range specified in section 18-1.3-501(3).
What does that mean? Allow us to break down the language of the statute into bite-sized portions. Starting from the top, we see the terms “knowingly or recklessly,” which require some type of intentional act, not simply an accident that results in harm. Next, we have “bodily injury,” which simply means “physical pain.” Because the definition is so broad, including even very minor physical pain, many cases where there is any physical contact at all, even if it is minor, are charged as assaults. All that is needed is for the alleged victim to claim that the physical contact “hurt.”
What is 2nd Degree Assault?
As stated in the Colorado statute, section 18-3-203: (1) A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if:
(b) With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes such injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or […]
(d) He recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(e) he intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury to another person by administering to him, without his consent, a drug, substance, or preparation capable of producing the intended harm; or […]
(g) With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes bodily injury to that person or another; or
(2)(a) If assault in the second degree is committed under a sudden heat of passion, caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim, and without an interval between the provocation and the injury sufficient for the voice of reason and humanity to be heard, it is a class 6 felony.
(b) If assault in the second degree is committed without the circumstances provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2), it is a class 4 felony.
What does that all mean? Essentially, second degree assault is distinguishable from third degree assault in the severity of the injury or the means used to inflict harm. There are references to “serious bodily injury” and the use of a deadly weapon. Section (e) outlaws “drugging” someone, a prominent example would be pouring a “date rape” drug into someone else’s beverage at a bar. Second degree assault is also unique in that the statute provides for a “heat of passion” defense, meaning that if one was seriously provoked by another into committing an assault, and there was no time to cool off, the assault would be considered a class 6 felony. In the absence of a “heat of passion” defense, second degree assault is a class 4 felony.
What is 1st Degree Assault?
Pursuant to Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-202, a person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:
(1)(a) With intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(b) with intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, he causes such an injury to any person; or
(c) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury to any person; or […]
(2)(a) If assault in the first degree is committed under circumstances where the act of causing the injury is performed upon a sudden heat of passion, it is a class 5 felony.
(b) If assault in the first degree is committed without the circumstances provided in paragraph (a) of this subsection (2) it is a class 3 felony.
What does that mean? As we saw above, the difference between the various levels of assault charges is a reflection of the nature of the injuries and the actions that caused them. The more serious the injury, the more serious the charges. Whereas third degree assault required only that someone be “hurt,” first degree assault was designed to address more dangerous conduct: “deadly weapon,” “intent to disfigure,” and “extreme indifference to human life.” Similar to 2nd degree assault above, a “heat of passion” defense can reduce the charge from a class 3 felony to a class 5 felony.
Both Assault in the First Degree as well as the Second Degree are Crimes of Violence in Colorado – meaning they can result in years of mandatory time in the Department of Corrections, even on a first offense.
All felony assault charges are extremely serious and life-altering, and anyone charged with them should consult with an experienced assault defense lawyer in Colorado Springs as soon as possible.
What is Vehicular Assault?
Under Colorado law, a person commits vehicular assault if he operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another. CRS 18-3-205. If the injuries are sustained as a result of reckless conduct, vehicular assault is a class 5 felony.
Oftentimes, vehicular assault charges are brought when the driver is under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Under those circumstances, vehicular assault becomes a class 4 felony.
Domestic Violence & Assault Charges
Many misdemeanor charges for assault occur in domestic violence or domestic abuse situations between couples. In fact, Assault 3 is one of the most common charges related to domestic violence (DV) cases, and is very often accompanied by a Harassment charge.
Domestic Violence Assault is actually just Assault with a domestic violence enhancer. The enhancer both removes discretion from the police and the District Attorney’s Office in handling the case (arrests are mandatory and the DA’s office cannot typically dismiss the case or plead it down to a non-DV charge) and dictates domestic violence treatment after any type of conviction or deferred sentence. Moreover, as any domestic violence conviction, or even deferred sentence, prevents one from owning or possessing firearms, these cases can have extreme career repercussions for military personnel and defense contractors.
Because of this, Domestic Violence Assault cases are particularly delicate to handle, especially when a member of the military is involved, and anyone charged with it, whether military or not, should consult with an experienced criminal law attorney at the earliest opportunity.
What Are the Consequences of an Assault Conviction?
Convictions for Assault charges can have severe consequences, often resulting in one or more of the following:
- A jail sentence;
- A sentence to the Department of Corrections (Felonies only);
- Anger management classes;
- Domestic violence classes;
- Useful public service;
- Court costs;
- The potential loss of your Second Amendment rights to own or possess a firearm (Felonies and Domestic Violence cases).
Additionally, while Patterson Weaver Law, LLC cannot advise anyone on military law or procedures, because individuals with domestic violence convictions and even deferred sentences cannot possess firearms under either Federal or Colorado law, repercussions for military personnel can also include:
- Dishonorable discharge from the military;
- Inability to reenlist;
- Loss of benefits.
If you are a member of the military and are facing this type of a charge, Patterson Weaver Law, LLC strongly encourages you to not only consult a civilian attorney regarding the civilian criminal case, but also a military attorney or JAG officer that can fully advise you on threats to your career.
How Can an Attorney Help?
It is important to remember that the prosecutor in your case, and/or the Colorado Springs police officer that arrested you, are not your friends looking to cut you a deal. You may need an attorney to help you navigate the criminal justice process to get you the best deal possible. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can identify issues such as self-defense or defense of others that will be useful in negotiating with the prosecution. If needed, a competent and experienced trial attorney such as those at Patterson Weaver Law, LLC can represent a client at trial and often obtain a very positive outcome.
While every case is different and has unique challenges, specific benefits to clients of hiring an attorney can include:
- Reduced or eliminated jail time;
- Reduced or eliminated useful public service;
- A plea to a lesser charge; Reduced probation term;
- Obtaining a deferred sentence;
- Reduced fine;
- Dismissal of the case;
- Acquittal at trial.
Patterson Weaver Law, LLC has an excellent track record in helping military clients navigate the system in a way that allows them to maintain their careers.
Whether you are a soldier or a civilian, and whether your case is labeled as domestic violence or not, Colorado Springs assault attorney Patterson Weaver will work hard to get you the best outcome in your situation. Call at (719) 215-8049 or contact us online today for a free consultation.