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Charged with Assault in Colorado?

Assault is a common charge in Colorado.  In its most basic form, assault is causing pain to another person.  Assault in Colorado is further broken down into different categories based on the harm caused as well as other factors.  For example:

  1. Harassment:  Although harassment can be committed in many forms, harassment as closely related to assault is defined as striking, touching kicking or otherwise touching somebody with the intent to harass, bother, annoy or scare another person, but does not cause pain.  Harassment is a class 3 misdemeanor.
  2. Third degree assault:  3rd degree assault requires a level of pain as opposed to harassment.  In Colorado a person can be charged with 3rd degree assault if:The person, knowingly and recklessly caused bodily injury to another person, or,

o   The person causes bodily injury to another with criminal negligence by the use of a weapon, or,

o   A person attempts to infect, injure, harm, harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm a peace officer, police officer, firefighter, or specific medical staff to come into contact with blood and other body fluids or toxic substances.

The definition for bodily injury in Colorado includes pain to satisfy the bodily injury requirement.  3rd degree assault is a class 1 misdemeanor and can be an extraordinary risk time with sentencing enhancements.

 3. Assault in the second degree:  2nd degree assault can be charged by a number of different actions in Colorado.  For example:

o   A person, with intent to do so, caused bodily injury to another person by the use of a deadly weapon, or,

o   A person recklessly caused bodily injury to another person by the use of a deadly weapon, or,

o   A person intended to cause an injury and caused serious bodily injury, or,

o   A person caused injury to another person while intentionally trying to interfere with a police officer of firefighter performing their duties, or,

o   A person knowingly applied violent force to specific government officials, or,

o   A person intentionally drugged another person without the other person’s consent or knowledge.

2nd degree assault is generally a class 4 felony, but there is modified (increased) sentencing since 2nd degree assault is considered an extraordinary risk crime.  If the person is convicted of a crime of violence with the 2nd degree assault the person can be sentence to a mandatory minimum sentence of 5 years up to 16 years in prison.  In limited circumstance considered to be "heat of passion" the class of felony can be lowered to a class 6 felony.

 4. First degree assault:  1st degree assault is considered the most serious of the assault charges.  To be charged with 1st degree assault in Colorado a police officer must believe that:

o   A person intended to cause serious bodily injury and did cause serious bodily injury, or,

o   A person intended to cause serious disfigurement or disable another person and caused serious disfigurement or disabled another person, or,

o   A person, acting with extreme indifference to the value of human life knowingly created a grave risk of death, and by doing so caused serious bodily injury, or,

o   A person threatened a police officer, firefighter, judge, or prison staff with a deadly weapon and caused serious bodily injury.

1st degree assault is a class 3 felony.  With sentencing enhancers the potential prison time can range from 10 years mandatory up to 32 years in prison.


The most common defense to assault is self-defense.  However, self-defense is not an automatic defense in Colorado.  The person charged must be able to show factors such as who the initial aggressor was, if the person charged was in fear of imminent bodily injury and, most importantly, if the self-defense was reasonable.

Assault is a very complicated area of law involving factors that can have a significant impact on the case, and subsequently a person’s life and liberty.  A person charged with assault may be looking at a serious conviction such as a felony with sentencing enhancers, mandatory prison time, and periods of parole. If a person is charged he or she should take the advantage of consultations that most criminal defense attorneys in Colorado offer for free.  This will give the person charged a chance to discuss the details in a confidential setting, allows an experienced attorney to ask questions to determine if the charge is appropriate, discuss potential consequences and all possible defenses.

The defense attorneys at Black & Graham have represented numerous clients that have been charged with assault charges.  The lawyers at Black & Graham focus on the priorities of the client.  Our attorneys work diligently in seeing if charges can be dismissed or reduced, what defenses the client may have, eliminating jail time and keeping convictions off of client’s records.