St. Patrick’s Day is known as a time to “let your Irish out” and get a bit rowdy. Typically, this partying is all in good fun, but can end in a brush with the law if festivities go too far.
As past St. Paddy’s Day brawls in New York and Cleveland demonstrate, it’s easy for things to get out of hand quickly when intoxicated people come together in a public place. If you’re out and about and things get too crazy, it’s best to step away, as any involvement can result in serious criminal charges.
Common criminal charges associated with rowdy festivities include disorderly conduct, menacing, and assault.
In Colorado, disorderly conduct is defined as making an explicit or offensive remark in public, or as making an unreasonable amount of noise near a private residence. This is a Class 1 petty offense, and is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 for a first offense. Second and third offenses may be subject to enhanced sentencing.
Fighting in public is also considered disorderly conduct. This is a Class 3 misdemeanor, and is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $50-$750 fine. Further, discharging or threatening to discharge a weapon in public is a Class 2 misdemeanor publishable by 6-12 months in jail and/or a fine of $250-$1,000.
Also covered under Colorado disorderly conduct law are the offenses of Class 2 public nuisance and harassment. A Class 2 public nuisance offense includes conduct that disturbs the peace or promotes prostitution, illegal gambling, drug dealing, or serving liquor to underage persons. Harassment is defined as touching, taunting, or communicating with another person in an obscene way, calling someone repeatedly and hanging up, or following someone.
Menacing is defined as a threat or physical action that knowingly places another person in fear of imminent bodily injury. A simply menacing offense is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a $50-$750 fine.
However, if the menacing offense involves a deadly weapon, an article that the victim could reasonably believe is a deadly weapon, or the verbal threat of a deadly weapon, it is a Class 5 felony. This is punishable by 1-3 years in prison, a fine of $1,000-$100,000, and the long-term consequences of being a convicted felon.
In Colorado, assault is defined as the intentional or reckless infliction of bodily harm to another. There are three degrees of assault in Colorado, which are defined by the extent of bodily harm and intent of the assailant.
First degree assault occurs when the assailant intends to cause serious bodily injury to the victim. This is a felony punishable up to 24 years of imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $750,000.
Second degree assault occurs when the assailant intends to cause bodily injury, or commits a reckless act that results in serious bodily injury to another. This is also a felony, and is punishable by up to 12 years of imprisonment and/or up to a $500,000 fine.
Third degree assault occurs when there is no intent to cause bodily harm, but an intentional reckless action or unintentional negligent action with a deadly weapon results in bodily harm to the victim. This is a misdemeanor punishable by up 6 months in prison.
Bottom line? Don’t let one night of out of control partying ruin your future. If you find yourself facing a charge after this St. Paddy’s Day, get in touch with our office.
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 and 2013 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.