Shot in the groin.
That’s what police in Colorado Springs say happened to a local man during what they are calling a domestic dispute. Preliminary reports indicated that there were two wounds in his groin area, caused by either one or two bullets (one of wound could be where the bullet exited). The only thing else release at the time of this writing is that two people were in the home at the time of the shooting, and that the man was taken to the hospital for the bullet wound.
Since so little is known about this case, it’s hard to talk with any specificity about any charges that might result or what defense strategy is most likely to lead to a positive outcome. However, that lack of information also provides the opportunity for some interesting conjecture by hypothesizing about what actually happened.
First, let’s take a broad look at potential charges, then we’ll dive into defenses.
Charges That Could Result from Domestic Dispute Shooting
Domestic violence is a broad category with the possibility of numerous different charges, including both misdemeanors and felonies. What charges might be filed in this situation?
Here’s what we know:
- A man was shot in the groin, perhaps twice.
- There was one other person in the home at the time of the shooting.
- Police are calling it a domestic dispute.
Based only on that information, there are a lot of ways this could go.
Assault charges can be misdemeanors or felonies, based on the degree of the injury. The courts look at the following factors to decide the degree of the charges:
- Intent of the individual to threaten, cause, or recklessly cause bodily injury, without a deadly weapon
- Intent of the individual to threaten, cause, or recklessly cause bodily injury, with a deadly weapon
- An individual causes bodily injury in the act of preventing a peace officer from carrying out his or her duties
Under Colorado law, these acts are considered crimes of violence and may receive mandatory sentencing of at least five years in prison.
Third degree assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor charge and may be subject to two years in prison.
Second degree assault is a Class 4 felony unless it is considered a crime of passion, in which case it will be charged as a Class 6 felony.
If an individual is charged with aggravated assault, their charge is a Class 3 felony. If the offense is considered a crime of passion, it will be classified as a Class 5 felony. These charges are subject to at least 10 years of mandatory incarceration.
Aggravated assault charges apply to the following situations:
- Acting with intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person with use of a deadly weapon, and causing serious bodily injury
- Acting with intent to cause permanent disfiguration or permanent disability to another person, and causing serious bodily injury
- Acting with knowledge to create serious risk of death to another person with indifference to human life, and causing serious bodily injury to another person
- Acting with intent and knowledge to cause serious bodily injury to a firefighter or peace officer by threatening them with a deadly weapon
Serious bodily injury is more extreme than bodily injury, as it holds a risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or serious and long-lasting loss of bodily function.
If a gun or other deadly weapon is used in an offense, the punishments for the crime are greatly enhanced. As you can see above, the use of a deadly weapon can mean the difference between a misdemeanor charge and a felony charge.
The story we began with involves the use of a gun. If the case is filed, it’s likely that the charges will be enhanced unless the shooter acted in self-defense. Speaking of which…
Ways to Defend against Charges Related to the Shooting
The following defenses can be used for domestic violence charges:
- False allegation
- Lack of intent
- Lack of proof of injury
- Acted in defense of others
- Mental incapacitation
Right off the bat, you can remove two of those. This case involves a definite proof of injury, and the police have already stated that there were only two people present, which makes it difficult (though not completely impossible) to argue that the shooter was acting in another’s defense.
It also seems likely that claiming an alibi wouldn’t work, either, presuming that the individual charged is one of the two police have said were in the home at the time of the shooting and it has been deemed a domestic dispute. Still, it is possible that the person charged was verifiably engaged in another activity and separated from the victim when the shooting occurred. (For example, if they where chatting in an online game and the victim accidentally shot himself with the gun in a different part of the home.)
Beyond that seemingly far-fetched scenario, there are still a lot of potential options, though. Perhaps the shooter was acting in self-defense. Maybe they were mentally incapacitated or inebriated. Perhaps there was no intent to injure and the situation was an accident. It is even possible that the “victim” did shoot himself and then decided to blame the person they were fighting with.
The point of all this is two-fold. One, to show you that there are potentially all kinds of ways to defend yourself from charges. Two, to illustrate something that all good criminal lawyers know: a case is won or lost in the details. It’s hard to put together a clear defense for the scenario we’ve been given because there are just so many details we don’t know. The job of your defense attorney is to piece together those details in order to shape the best possible defense strategy for you.
What You Need to Know about Colorado Domestic Violence Accusations
Even threats of violence can constitute a domestic violence charge, and if anyone makes an allegation of domestic violence against you, Colorado law requires automatic arrest. When you are arrested, you cannot lawfully contact the alleged victim or have any weapons in your possession, even if you are a registered user.
That’s why it’s essential for you to enlist the help of an experienced defense attorney as soon as you face charges. A knowledgeable Denver criminal lawyer will know the nuances of domestic violence law and be able to build the strongest defense to fight your charges. Reach out today for a free case review.
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.