Is Assault a Felony in Colorado?
Unlike many other states, Colorado divides assault into 3 degrees, with first and second-degree assault being known as “aggravated assault” and third-degree assault being the same as simple assault. As such, our lawyers often get asked, “Is assault a felony in Colorado?” The answer: It depends.
First and second-degree assaults are felonies, while third-degree assault is a misdemeanor crime. Nonetheless, all degrees of assault in Colorado should be treated seriously, as you can see below.
A person is guilty of first-degree assault if they cause SERIOUS BODILY INJURY from doing the following acts:
- Using a deadly weapon against another
- Disfiguring another person seriously and permanently, or destroying, amputating, or permanently disabling a part of a person’s body
- Knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life
- Threatening a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider with a deadly weapon while they are performing their duties with intent to cause serious bodily injury
First-degree assault is a class 3 felony punishable by 8 to 24 years in prison and a fine between $3,000 and $750,000.
Although it’s perceived as a less severe crime, second-degree assault carries harsh penalties, nonetheless. If convicted of this class 4 felony, you could spend 3 to 12 years in prison and be subject to $1,000 to $100,000 fines. With this in mind, second-degree assault is committed when a person does the following:
- Injures another person with a deadly weapon
- Injures a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care/service provider to prevent them from performing a lawful duty
- Recklessly causes serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon
- Intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or another form of physical or mental impairment or injury by giving another person a drug or substance without their consent and for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment
- Uses violent physical force against a peace officer, firefighter, emergency medical service provider, court judge, correctional officer, or while in custody or confinement
The least serious assault offense is third-degree assault. It is committed under the following circumstances:
- A person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person
- With criminal negligence, a person causes bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon
- A person causes a peace officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, or an emergency medical service provider to come in contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means with intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm such individuals
Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor and an extraordinary risk crime, meaning the penalties could be harsher than those of a standalone class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishment ranges from 6 to 24 months in jail and/or $5,000 fines.
What Is Considered Serious Bodily Injury?
In Colorado, first-degree and second-degree aggravated assaults involve serious bodily injury for the most part, although, some elements of these offenses only involve regular bodily injury. Take a look at the differences below:
- “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury which, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.
- In comparison, “bodily injury” means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition.