While these certainly constitute dangerous weapons under Colorado law, our state’s definition of a deadly weapon is not limited to firearms – or even other objects designed to cause injury. Under Colorado law, any type of object, instrument, device, material, or substance may be considered a deadly weapon if it is used in a dangerous way.
In our state’s criminal justice system, deadly weapons may be divided into two different categories:
Per se deadly weapons. Deadly weapons may include weapons that are either designed to cause injury, or that can easily be used to cause injury. Firearms are the most common example of this classification of deadly weapon—including unloaded and loaded handguns, revolvers, pistols, rifles, shotguns, and any other instrument that has the capability to discharge bullets, cartridges, or any other type of explosive charge. This category also includes combat knives, bludgeons, swords, daggers, and metal knuckles.
Objects and tools capable of serious injury or death. The term “deadly weapon” could also apply to any item or tool that can cause serious injury or death when used in a certain way. Everything from cars and motorcycles to furniture and metal pipes could be considered deadly weapons if they are used to seriously injure or kill another person.
What Qualifies as Assault with a Deadly Weapon in Colorado?
Our state’s broad definition of “deadly weapon” means a variety of different activities involving dangerous objects could constitute assault with a deadly weapon in Colorado.
You can be charged with assault with a deadly weapon if you use a dangerous weapon in a way that knowingly, intentionally, or recklessly harms someone else. You could also be charged with this crime if you threaten to use a deadly weapon to injure a police officer, firefighter, court officer, or detention center staff member.
First Degree Assault with a Deadly Weapon. Assault with a deadly weapon charges may be elevated to assault in the first degree if you cause serious bodily injury to someone else with a deadly weapon. You could also be charged with assault in the first degree if you threaten to cause serious bodily injury with a dangerous weapon to a police officer, firefighter, court officer, or detention center staff member. Serious bodily injury includes any type of injury that involves substantial risk of death, permanent disfigurement, or impairment.
The penalties for assault with a deadly weapon may include up to 12 years in prison, up to $750,000 in fines, and a lifelong criminal record. If you are convicted of assault with a deadly weapon, you may also be required to serve probation and fulfill conditions such as attending counseling, maintaining employment, and performing community service.
Second Degree Assault with a Deadly Weapon. You can be charged with assault in the second degree if you intentionally or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon. Bodily injury includes physical pain, illness, or any physical or mental impairment.
The penalties for second degree assault with a deadly weapon may include up to 12 years in prison, $750,000 in fines, and a lifelong criminal record. You may also be required to serve probation and perform community service.
Third Degree Assault with a Deadly Weapon. You can be charged with third degree assault for causing bodily injury to another person using a deadly weapon due to criminal negligence. Criminal negligence occurs when you act in a way that fails to recognize a substantial and unjustifiable danger. For instance, hurting someone by speeding considerably faster than the speed limit could be considered criminal negligence.
Penalties for this degree of assault may include up to 18 months incarceration, $5,000 in fines, and a lifelong criminal record. It could also include a probationary sentence and community service.
If you have been charged with any degree of assault with a deadly weapon, you face severe, lasting consequences. It’s highly advisable to consult with a Colorado weapons crimes attorney with a successful track record who can help you evaluate your case and build your most powerful defense. With the guidance of a skilled lawyer, you may be able to have your criminal charges reduced or dropped.
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.