Imagine walking home from a night out with friends, and someone bumps into you. Usually, this wouldn’t be a big deal. But even though you attempt to apologize, they become immediately aggressive. First, they start yelling at you and threatening you. You ignore this, but when they attempt to attack, you are forced to fight back. Unfortunately, in an attempt to protect yourself, you injure them.
Is this an open-and-shut case of self-defense? After all, they were the aggressor, and you were merely trying to keep yourself from getting hurt. Or might you run afoul of “duty to retreat” laws that could leave you facing assault charges?
As with most legal questions, the answer is complicated. First, let’s talk about the “duty to retreat.”
Understanding “Duty to Retreat” in Colorado
Essentially, these types of laws say that individuals who fear imminent harm or death have a duty to try to retreat from the situation before using force as a defense. Ignore this, and you could be charged with menacing or assault.
However, this is not true in our state. While many believe that Colorado has a “duty to retreat” law, this is not the case except in very specific circumstances. In fact, despite no “Stand Your Ground” law in our state, the Supreme Court has said that an individual is allowed to use force in public to protect others or themselves without attempting a retreat first.
In other words, there is no duty to retreat in Colorado. Which seems like great news? If someone attacks you and you fight back, you’re off the hook, right? It’s a clear case of self-defense.
Once again, the answer is more complicated than it first appears. It comes down to how self-defense laws work in our state.
So, How Do Colorado Self-Defense Laws Work?
Quite simply, deadly force can only be used when someone reasonably believes that engaging in it is necessary for self-protection from:
- imminent death
- serious bodily injury
- sexual assault
- other violent crimes
This is all laid out in Section 18-1-704 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS).
Additionally, an individual must also be acting lawfully when using deadly force and cannot be engaged in any criminal activity. Otherwise, the act will not be considered justified self-defense under CRS § 18-1-704(2).
How to Defend Yourself Against Criminal Charges in CO Assault Cases
Have you been charged with assault or battery in Colorado due to an altercation? Do you believe the charges are false because you were forced to use physical force in self-defense?
If so, it is essential that you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. Your lawyer can help walk you through your legal options and build a strong defense on your behalf to avoid jail time and other penalties associated with these serious criminal offenses.
We understand how intimidating facing criminal charges can be and strive daily to protect our client’s rights and freedom. No matter how complex your case may seem, we can help. Get in touch now for a free consultation.
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 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.