Denver criminal defense lawyer Kimberly Diego is a highly skilled defense attorney who can defend clients charged with assault in the Denver metro area, or anywhere in Colorado. Attorney Diego understands how to assess and exploit the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case, so as to reduce penalties or defeat charges altogether in your case.
Colorado law provides for multiple kinds of assault: assault in the first degree, assault in the second degree, assault in the third degree. First degree assault is the most serious kind of assault, and third degree assault is the least serious. Regardless of the type of assault with which you are charged, any assault charge is serious and you should consult with a Denver criminal defense attorney experienced with handling assault charges immediately.
First degree assault is a Class 3 Felony, unless it is committed under circumstances constituting “heat of passion” (when it is caused by a serious and highly provoking act of the intended victim), in which case it is a Class 5 Felony. Because first degree assault is a crime of violence, any person convicted of first degree assault is subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years. An individual can be charged with first degree assault in any of the following circumstances:
- If a person, with intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, actually causes serious bodily injury to any person (not necessarily the same person) by use of a deadly weapon
- If a person intends to permanently disfigure another person, or to permanently disable them, and he does in fact cause such an injury to any person (not necessarily the same person)
- If a person manifests extreme indifference to human life, knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and in so doing causes serious bodily injury to any person
- If a person intends to cause serious bodily injury to a peace officer or firefighter, and threatens that person with a deadly weapon, while knowing that person is a peace officer or firefighter acting in the performance of his or her duties
Thus, Assault in the First Degree is a specific intent crime – meaning that the prosecution must prove that the defendant had the conscious objective to cause serious bodily injury. Serious bodily injury means an injury involving a substantial risk of death, serious bodily disfigurement, or protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body.
Second Degree Assault is a class 4 felony, or a class 6 felony if circumstances constituting “heat of passion” exist. Second degree assault can be established in several ways:
- An individual intends to cause bodily injury to another person, and does cause bodily injury to a person with a deadly weapon
- An individual recklessly causes bodily injury to another person, with a deadly weapon
- An individual intends on causing bodily injury, and does cause serious bodily injury to a person
- An individual causes bodily injury to anyone while trying to prevent a peace officer from doing their duties
- An individual knowingly applies physical force upon an officer while they are in performance of their duties
- An individual drugs another without their consent
The first four types of second degree assault listed above are considered crimes of violence, and thus are subject to a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years. However, the last two types of second degree assault listed are not considered to be crimes of violence.
Third degree assault is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. However, because third degree assault is considered an extraordinary risk crime, a conviction for third degree assault can result in a sentence of incarceration of up to two years. A person commits third degree assault if they knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person. The only difference between second and third degree assault is the degree of injury. It is not considered a defense when the specific intent was directed at someone other than the victim.
Regardless of whether you are charged with first, second, or third degree assault, assault charges are always serious and it is advisable that you consult with a Denver criminal defense attorney to discuss your case as early as possibly in the process.