The State of Colorado characterizes the crime of assault based on the severity of the incident. The law uses the term “degree” to differentiate one level of assault from another. However, many people get confused over the difference between the degrees of assault in Colorado. As a result, a common question is, What does 3rd-degree assault mean in Colorado?
Third-degree assault is a very serious criminal offense. You could face serious jail time and lose important rights if convicted. Contacting our aggressive criminal defense lawyers with Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C., could give you the edge you need to beat your case.
What Does 3rd-Degree Assault Mean in Colorado?
Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-204 establishes the offense of 3rd-degree assault. In Colorado, 3rd-degree assault means knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another or negligently causing bodily injury to another while using a deadly weapon. Additionally, 3rd-degree assault means causing a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical provider to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or any toxic, caustic, or hazardous material. This can be accomplished by any means, including throwing, tossing, or expelling fluid or other material. The person charged must act with the intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm the alleged victim.
Assault in the 3rd degree is a class 1 misdemeanor.
What Is the Penalty for 3rd-Degree Assault in Colorado?
The law allows a judge to sentence you to a minimum of six months in jail if the judge finds on the record that the victim was pregnant at the time of the assault and that you knew or should have known the victim was pregnant. The six-month incarceration sentence cannot be suspended in whole or part.
The sentencing judge could put you on probation and order you to complete community service in addition to any other penalties the court imposes.
What Are the Other Degrees of Assault in Colorado?
Colorado recognizes 1st and 2nd degrees of assault. According to Colo. Rev. Stat. §18-3-202, 1st-degree assault involves causing serious bodily injury to another by means of a deadly weapon or seriously and permanently destroying, disabling, or amputating a member or bodily organ. Additionally, 1st-degree assault occurs when you:
- Engage in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another and causes serious bodily injury;
- Cause serious bodily injury while strangling or suffocating someone; or
- Cause serious bodily injury to a peace officer or firefighter, or threaten to cause serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon to such a person while they are performing their duties.
You might face 2nd-degree assault charges if you:
- Cause serious bodily harm to another while intending bodily injury;
- Cause bodily injury to a person by means of a deadly weapon;
- Cause bodily injury to a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical provider, while preventing them from performing their duties; or
- Recklessly cause serious bodily injury to another by means of a deadly weapon.
The difference between 1st and 2nd-degree assault lies in the severity of the injury inflicted by the assault.
Penalties for 1st and 2nd-Degree Assault
First-Degree Assault Penalties
A conviction for 1st-degree assault is a class 3 felony. However, assault in the first degree is a class 5 felony if committed in the sudden heat of passion.
A class 3 felony carries 4 to 12 years in prison with at least 3 years of parole. A class 5 felony conviction results in 1 to 3 years in prison with 2 years of parole.
However, the court could consider 1st-degree assault to be a crime of violence. If so, the judge must sentence you to at least the mid-point of the maximum presumptive range to no more than twice the presumptive maximum. The court can modify the sentence after the Department of Corrections completes a sentencing report.
Second-Degree Assault Penalties
The possible penalties for 2nd-degree assault vary depending on the circumstances. Generally, 2nd-degree assault is a class 4 felony. It could be a class 6 felony if you committed the crime in the heat of passion. However, the crime could be a class 3 felony if the assault occurs during the commission of very serious offenses like murder, arson, or robbery.
A class 6 felony carries a prison sentence between 1 year and 18 months, with 1 year of parole. A class 4 felony carries a prison term of 2 to 6 years with 3 years of parole. The penalty for a class 3 felony is 4 to 12 years with 3 years of parole.
Defenses to Assault Charges
The best defense for your case depends on many considerations. That’s why it is vital to your case to talk with attorneys immediately. Attacking the mens rea, or guilty mind, element of each charge could prove to be an effective defense for you. In other words, we would argue that you lacked the criminal intent to commit the crime alleged.
Self-defense and defense of another are also common defenses. You must act reasonably when defending yourself or another person, and the amount of force you use must be proportionate to the force applied to you. In other words, you could push someone who is about to punch you, but you couldn’t shoot someone who threatened to punch you in most circumstances.
The reasonable doubt defense is almost always an option. By asserting that the State failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, you could argue many factors like exaggeration or fabrication of the claims, the alleged victim was the first aggressor, or you engaged in mutual combat.
Remember that your case’s best defense might differ from the same defense that worked for someone else.
Gerash Steiner Blanton, P.C. Puts You First
We put you and your interests first. That’s why we received an AV rating from Martindale Hubbell and inclusion on the Best Lawyers in America list. Our team has decades of experience vigorously defending people like you who get caught in the Denver criminal justice system. We are your advocates, and we give you a voice. Call us for a free case evaluation or contact us online.