Facing any criminal charges can be a lot to handle. However, if the government claims you committed a violent crime, such as assault or battery, it can feel overwhelming. However, regardless of the charges you face, it is important to remember that, as serious as these crimes are, it is the government’s burden to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. At the Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C., our Aurora assault & battery defense lawyers have over 30 years of experience aggressively defending the rights of clients facing serious offenses, including assault charges or battery charges.
Assault and Battery Generally
Each state defines assault and battery differently, so it is important to understand how Colorado law treats these offenses. Assault and battery—while often used interchangeably or in conjunction with one another—are two distinct crimes.
Assault in Colorado is an offense that prohibits intentionally causing bodily injury to another person by means of physical contact. On the other hand, Colorado refers to battery as “menacing” and prohibits the use of threatening actions to put another person in fear of an imminent assault.
What Is Assault in Colorado?
Under Colorado law, assault crimes are broken down into three degrees. The seriousness of an assault charge can depend on several factors, including:
- A person’s intent,
- Whether a person used a weapon, or
- The seriousness of the injuries suffered by the victim.
There are several ways to commit each type of assault offense, and the most common are listed below.
Assault in the First Degree
First-degree assault involves intentionally causing serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon. Generally speaking, assault in the first degree is a class 3 felony, but if it is committed in the heat of passion, it is a class 5 felony. Thus, A first-degree assault conviction is a felony under Colorado law. While punishments can vary widely, assault in the first degree can result in sentences ranging from 4 to 32 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Assault in the Second Degree
Second-degree assault involves causing bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon, such as a firearm or knife. It is also a second-degree assault to recklessly cause serious bodily injury to another person while using a deadly weapon. Assault in the second degree is a class 4 felony—but if it is committed in the heat of passion, it is a class 6 felony. Depending on the surrounding circumstances, assault in the second degree can result in sentences ranging from 2 to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Assault in the Third Degree
Third-degree assault in Colorado is defined as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person. The State can also charge assault when someone who is acting with criminal negligence causes bodily injury to another while using a deadly weapon. Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 to 24 months in jail.
What Is Battery in Colorado?
Colorado law prohibits the traditional offense of battery; however, state lawmakers refer to the crime as “menacing” rather than “battery.” Menacing involves knowingly making any threat or physical action intended to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Generally, menacing is a class 1 misdemeanor. But if the perpetrator uses a gun or knife to commit the battery offense, it becomes a class 5 felony.
Examples of Assaults and Batteries
Understandably, there is a lot of confusion between assault and battery because the crimes are very similar. However, seeing a few examples may help solidify the distinctions.
Here are some examples of actions that could result in assault charges.
- You start a fight at a bar and punch the other person in the face, causing them to miss a week of work.
- You push someone from behind, and they fall and hit their head on the pavement.
- You spit at a cyclist who almost hits you as you are crossing the street at a crosswalk.
As you can imagine, there are almost an infinite number of scenarios where the State can charge you with assault.
Now let’s look at some examples of actions that could result in the need to contact seasoned battery lawyers.
- A driver cuts you off, so you point a realistic-looking toy gun at them.
- You convincingly threaten to hurt someone if they don’t do as you ask.
- You cock your fist back as though you are about to punch someone.
Of course, in each of these cases, there may be a defense that could either mitigate your culpability or excuse your actions entirely. Battery attorneys and assault lawyers can help anyone facing these charges determine the best possible defense.
Like all criminal offenses, both assault and battery charges have various defenses that apply in certain situations. Perhaps the most common defense to these charges is self-defense. It is not a crime to commit what would otherwise be an assault or battery if you are acting in self-defense. However, to successfully claim the defense, your actions must have been reasonable, both in terms of whether force was required as well as the extent of force used.
Other common defenses to assault and battery crimes include:
- Fabrication, and
- Lack of criminal intent.
In cases involving first-degree assault, it may also be a defense to argue that the alleged victim’s injuries did not rise to the level of “serious bodily injury.” Assault attorneys may do this by reviewing the medical records and effectively cross-examining the alleged victim on what, if any, limitations they experienced as a result of their purported injuries. If successful, this defense would likely result in a conviction for a less serious offense, such as second or third-degree assault.
Reach Out to an Experienced Aurora, CO, Criminal Defense Attorney to Discuss Your Case Today
If you were recently arrested and charged with assault or battery, it is important you understand the seriousness of the situation you face. If convicted, there is a very real chance the judge will sentence you to jail time. However, there is a long road between being charged and being convicted, and the Aurora assault & battery defense lawyers at Gerash Steiner & Blanton, P.C., are here to help. With more than three decades of experience aggressively defending clients charged with all types of assault and battery offenses, we understand the law and what it takes to beat these cases. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, give us a call at 303-830-0630 today. You can also connect with us through our online contact form.