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You might have seen on the news or in movies that a person has been charged with not just assault, but “aggravated assault.” This kind of charge definitely sounds more serious than a simple assault charge, but what does it mean? When is assault “aggravated?” How much more jail time does someone convicted of aggravated assault get?


We’ve got the basics for you.


Colorado and Aggravated Assault


There are three types of assault charges in Colorado. The first two – first and second degree assault – are considered “aggravated assault.” These two charges are both considered felonies, and involve bodily injury, specific victims, or weapons used during the incident.


Assault in the third degree is a less serious crime of assault, and is considered a misdemeanor in the state of Colorado.


“Bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” are common terms used in assault charges. But what do they mean in legal terms? What makes an injury more serious?


Bodily injury is involved in a crime if the assault causes any physical pain, illness, or physical/mental impairment.


Serious bodily injury is, obviously, more serious. These types of injuries involve a “substantial risk of death,” permanent disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of any body part or organ’s ability to function. Serious bodily injuries also occur if a victim suffers a broken bone, fracture, or second/third degree burns.


For example, kicking a man in the groin may be considered bodily injury, but it won’t qualify as a “serious” bodily injury unless the kick results in a risk of impairment to that area. Kicking a man in the face and breaking his nose, however, definitely counts as a serious bodily injury under the law.




And bodily injury is just one factor that can turn an assault into an aggravated assault. Below is a basic list of ways that

assault charges can be bumped up to aggravated assault charges:


An Assault is Assault in the First Degree If…

  • The attacker intended to cause (and causes) serious bodily injury through the use of a deadly weapon, and
  • The attacker intended to permanently disfigure, amputate, or destroy a victim’s organ and committed an act to reach that goal
  • The attacker intended to create (and does create) a grave risk of death to a victim
  • The attacker intended to cause (and does cause) serious bodily injury to a uniformed employee (peace officer, firefighter, judicial officer, detention facility employee) while they are performing their assigned duties


An Assault is Assault in the Second Degree If…

  • The attacker intended to cause (and causes) bodily injury through the use of a deadly weapon
  • The attacker intended to cause (and causes) bodily injury to a peace officer
  • The attacker recklessly causes serious bodily injury through the use of a deadly weapon
  • The attacker administers a drug or substance to another with the intention of causing stupor, unconsciousness, injury, or impairment
  • The attacker uses physical force against a uniformed employee while they are performing their duties
  • The attacker intended to harm or threaten an employee of a detention facility the attacker is confined in, and brings the employee into contact with bodily fluids or hazardous materials
  • The attacker intended to cause only bodily injury, but instead causes serious bodily injury to another


As you can see, intention is a crucial factor in whether an assault becomes aggravated or not. Talk to your lawyer about how to craft a defense to prove you had no such intentions.


A strong defense is key to avoiding jail time for aggravated assault. Getting convicted could mean up to 24 years of jail time and hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines. Reach out to a Colorado defense lawyer today for a free consultation on your case.


About the Author:


Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.


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