Colorado Springs Assault Defense Lawyer
There are many different behaviors categorized as illegal in the State of Colorado that are covered by the umbrella term of “assault.” The loosest definition of the word might be a circumstance in which unwanted touching takes place. Some of these behaviors can be classified as felonies, including first-degree assault, second-degree assault, extortion, and vehicular assault.
Felony assault is a serious charge with severe consequences if you are found guilty. When it comes to violent crimes, the Colorado justice system often pursues harsh penalties. To navigate this stressful time in your life, it’s vital that you have a criminal defense attorney in Colorado Springs to help you fight for your rights and freedom. Contact our experienced lawyers today and set up a free consultation.
Colorado Assault Charge Resources:
- How a Criminal Attorney Can Help
- What is First Degree Assault?
- What is Second Degree Assault?
- What is Third Degree Assault?
- Types of Assault Charges
- Penalties & Sentencing
- Common Legal Defenses
- Contact Our Assault Defense Attorneys
- Assault Charge FAQs
How Our Colorado Springs Assault Defense Attorneys Can Help You
Criminal defense attorneys provide a vital service to society. They ensure that everyone accused of a crime has access to a fair trial. Furthermore, they work tirelessly to protect the rights of their clients. If you have been accused of a crime, it is essential to understand the steps your criminal defense attorney will take to help you.
One of the first steps your Colorado Springs defense lawyer will take is to talk to you about the case. They will want to hear your side of what happened. Remember, they can only properly defend you if you tell them the truth and provide as much detail as possible. Your communication with them is confidential, so don’t worry about them sharing this information with the judge or prosecutor.
Your Colorado Springs assault defense attorney will take time to assess the evidence against you. They will examine the prosecution’s case and look for any holes or weaknesses. Once they have identified the weaknesses in the case against you, they will develop a strategy for how to exploit them.
Another step your criminal defense attorney will take is to investigate the case. They will talk to witnesses, review police reports, and gather other evidence relevant to your case. This step is vital because it allows your attorney to clearly understand what happened and identify any possible defenses.
Finally, your assault defense attorney will negotiate with the prosecution if applicable. In many cases, the prosecution is willing to offer a plea bargain. This means they will agree to reduce the charges or recommend a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty plea. If your criminal attorney can successfully negotiate a plea bargain, it can result in a significantly reduced sentence or even dismissal of the charges against you.
“Susan did a phenomenal job. Her professionalism and dogged determination ensured the best outcome for my family.”
Defining Deadly Weapons & Bodily Injury
For anyone in the state of Colorado, understanding the statutory definition of what constitutes a deadly weapon helps you understand what could lead to related criminal charges.
According to Colorado law, a deadly weapon includes “a firearm, whether loaded or unloaded” or “a knife, bludgeon, or any other weapon, device, instrument, material, or substance, whether animate or inanimate, that, in the manner it is used or intended to be used, is capable of producing death or serious bodily injury.”
Being charged with a crime involving a deadly weapon can lead to serious penalties, so always speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.
What is First Degree Assault?
First-degree assault occurs when any of the following takes place:
- The accused uses a weapon with the intent to injure a person, threaten them, or cause them serious bodily injury.
- Causes any part of another person’s body to be amputated, disfigured, or destroyed, with the intent to do so
- Uses a deadly weapon to threaten court officers, firefighters, judges, or peace officers with intent to injure the victim
- Uses a deadly weapon as a threat against corrections officers or similar staff, with the intention of causing serious bodily injury while in custody
First-degree assault can be classified as a Class 3 felony, depending on whether the defendant was severely provoked, as defined by the law. This provocation generally has to involve an action against the accused. This definition means that words alone are not considered a provocation.
What is Second Degree Assault?
Second-degree assault covers many of the same actions listed above, with resulting injuries that are less than severe. It can also be used to classify situations in which substances are used to incapacitate or cause harm outside of a legal health-related procedure. It also applies to when those who are in lawful custody harm corrections officers, peace officers, and similar persons with weapons, their bodies, or their bodily fluids.
As with first-degree assault, the felony class will depend on whether or not the accused was deemed to have been provoked. An unprovoked second-degree assault is a Class 4 felony, while a provoked second-degree assault is a Class 6 felony.
What is Third Degree Assault?
Third-degree assault is the least severe type of assault. It involves someone causing bodily injury, but not “serious” bodily injury. This type of assault is also defined by someone knowingly but not intentionally causing someone physical pain. Many of these cases involve reckless behavior or criminal negligence. A third-degree assault charge in Colorado is a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 18 months in jail and potential fines.
Types of Assault Charges
Criminal extortion in Colorado refers to the use of threats to make another individual take action. The person initiating the threats must not have the legal power to demand that these actions take place. Depending on the circumstances surrounding the case, criminal extortion may be a Class 4 felony or a Class 5 felony.
Vehicular assault refers to an event in which one person’s negligent or reckless operation of a motor vehicle results in the serious bodily injury of another person. One example of vehicular assault would be someone driving under the influence and causing an accident that results in the victim being injured. Vehicular assaults are classified as either Class 4 or Class 5 felonies, depending on the circumstances surrounding the case.
Knowing the definition and potential repercussions of strangulation in Colorado is incredibly important, particularly if you are implicated in a criminal case where it becomes an issue. Strangulation, which is a form of assault in Colorado, is defined in the following way (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-3-202, 18-3-203):
- “With the intent to cause bodily injury, he or she applies sufficient pressure to impede or restrict the breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying such pressure to the neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person and thereby causes bodily injury.”
If convicted of this subsection of assault, it is a felony in the 4th degree as well as a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory penalty of 5 to 16 years in prison. You also face up to $500,000 in fines.
If you’re able to prove that the assault occurred in the heat of passion – like during an argument – it can be dropped to a class 6 felony, which carries between 12 and 18 months in jail and up to $100,000 in fines.
Assault Penalties & Sentencing in Colorado
In Colorado, the penalties and consequences for an assault charge vary depending on the specific type of assault and the severity of the offense. Assault charges are typically categorized into different degrees based on factors such as the level of violence, use of weapons, and the extent of injuries involved. Here are the general penalties for different degrees of assault:
First-Degree Assault (Class 3 Felony)
Penalty: Possible imprisonment for 10 to 32 years and/or a fine of up to $750,000 (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-3-202).
Second-Degree Assault (Class 4 Felony)
Penalty: Possible imprisonment for 2 to 6 years and/or a fine of up to $500,000 (Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 18-3-203).
Third-Degree Assault (Class 1 Misdemeanor)
Penalty: Up to 18 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $5,000 (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-204).
It’s important to note that these penalties are statutory maximums and that judges have discretion in sentencing. The actual sentence imposed may depend on various factors, including the defendant’s criminal history, the presence of aggravating or mitigating circumstances, and the skill of the defense attorney.
Additionally, there can be other consequences resulting from an assault conviction, such as:
- Probation: In some cases, the court may order probation, requiring the defendant to comply with specific conditions, such as attending counseling, staying away from the victim, or drug testing.
- Restraining Orders: The court may issue restraining orders or protection orders to keep the defendant away from the alleged victim.
- Restitution: If the victim suffered financial losses due to the assault, the court may order the defendant to pay restitution to compensate for those losses.
- Criminal Record: A conviction for assault will result in a criminal record, which can have serious implications for employment, housing, and other aspects of life.
- Loss of Rights: Convicted felons may lose certain civil rights, such as the right to vote, possess firearms, or serve on a jury.
- Immigration Consequences: Non-citizens convicted of assault may face deportation or other immigration consequences.
Given the serious nature of assault charges and the potential consequences, it is crucial for individuals facing such charges to seek legal representation from an experienced criminal defense attorney who can advocate on their behalf and work towards the best possible outcome in their case.
In Colorado, the penalties of an assault charge can be enhanced depending on who the victim is.
Enhanced Penalties for Assault When Victim is an At-Risk Adult
In Colorado, the legal system takes instances of assault against vulnerable populations very seriously. Consequently, there are elevated penalties if an alleged assault is committed against individuals who fall under certain categories of people deemed “at-risk.” These include at-risk adults, defined under Colorado as (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-6.5-103):
“… persons age 18 and older who are unable to provide or obtain services necessary for their health, safety, and welfare OR who lack the capacity to make or understand responsible decisions. Conditions that increase risk include dementia, physical or medical frailty, developmental disabilities, brain injury, behavioral disorders, and mental illness.”
Enhanced Penalties for Assault When Victim is a First Responder
Assault charges that result in serious bodily injuries become even more serious when the victim is a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or emergency medical care provider in Colorado. In these cases, judges must hand out prison sentences rather than considering alternatives like probation (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-401).
“If a person is convicted of assault in the first degree pursuant to section 18-3-202 or assault in the second degree pursuant to section 18-3-203 (1) (c.5), and the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider engaged in the performance of his or her duties, as defined in section 18-1.3-501 (1.5)(b), notwithstanding the provisions of subparagraph (III) of paragraph (a) of this subsection (1) and subparagraph (II) of this paragraph (b), the court shall sentence the person to the department of corrections.”
Enhanced Penalties for Assault When Defendant is a Repeat or Habitual Felony Offender
When a defendant in an assault case is categorized as a habitual or repeat felony offender in Colorado, the resulting penalties are considerably more severe, altering their life forever (Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1.3-801).
“A person shall be adjudged an habitual criminal and shall be punished by a term in the department of corrections of life imprisonment if the person:
- Is convicted of:
- Any class 1 or 2 felony or level 1 drug felony; or
- Any class 3 felony that is a crime of violence, as defined in section 18-1.3-406 (2); and
- Has been twice convicted previously for any of the offenses described in subparagraph (I) of this paragraph (a).
… No person sentenced pursuant to this subsection (1) shall be eligible for parole until such person has served at least forty calendar years.”
Colloquially, this is known as the Three Strikes Law, and is quite controversial.
Common Legal Defenses to Assault in Colorado Springs
While there are varying degrees of assault in Colorado, the legal defenses for each are often similar. Below are some of the most common defenses to assault charges in Colorado Springs:
Self-Defense or Defense of Others: You may be able to avoid conviction if you show that you used force against the victim to protect yourself or another person from imminent serious bodily injury. To succeed with this defense, you must offer proof that you reasonably believed that you or someone else was in danger of being seriously harmed and that the use of force was necessary to prevent that harm.
(1) Except as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section, a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend himself or a third person from what he reasonably believes to be the use or imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person, and he may use a degree of force which he reasonably believes to be necessary for that purpose.
(2) Deadly physical force may be used only if a person reasonably believes a lesser degree of force is inadequate and:
(a) The actor has reasonable ground to believe, and does believe, that he or another person is in imminent danger of being killed or of receiving great bodily injury; or
(b) The other person is using or reasonably appears about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling or business establishment while committing or attempting to commit burglary as defined in sections 18-4-202 to 18-4-204; or
(c) The other person is committing or reasonably appears about to commit kidnapping as defined in section 18-3-301 or 18-3-302, robbery as defined in section 18-4-301 or 18-4-302, sexual assault as set forth in section 18-3-402, or in section 18-3-403 as it existed prior to July 1, 2000, or assault as defined in sections 18-3-202 and 18-3-203.”
Defense of Property: You may also be able to avoid conviction if you can show that you used force against the victim to protect your property from destruction or theft. To succeed with this defense, you must have evidence that you reasonably believed that your property was in danger and that the use of force was necessary to protect it. Deadly force is never permitted in defense of property alone.
Accident/Lack of Intent: You may be able to avoid conviction if you can show that the alleged assault occurred accidentally and that you did not intend to hurt anyone.
Mistaken Identity: This is another common defense. Your criminal defense lawyer will argue that you are not the person who committed the crime. This is typically done through eyewitness testimony or video evidence showing that you were not at the crime scene when it occurred.
Contact Our Colorado Springs Assault Defense Lawyers
At Anaya & Chadderdon, P.C., our Colorado Springs assault defense attorneys have over 30 years of experience in the courtroom. We are prepared to handle your case and are committed to providing our clients with aggressive, informed, and effective defenses no matter the charges they’re facing. From drug crimes like possessing meth to violent crimes like assault, we can craft a strong case.
If you’ve been charged with assault, extortion, sexual assault, or vehicular assault in Colorado Springs, we urge you to contact us immediately for a free consultation. Let us help you navigate the legal system to get the best possible outcome for your case.
Colorado Assault Charge FAQs:
Keep reading to get answers to some frequently asked questions about assault charges in Colorado.
Can My Assault Charge be Dropped or Reduced?
Assault charges can be dropped or reduced in Colorado, but the process and criteria for doing so can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Here are some common ways assault charges may be dropped or reduced in Colorado:
- Lack of Sufficient Evidence: If the prosecution does not have enough evidence to prove the assault beyond a reasonable doubt, they may choose to drop the charges.
- Witness Cooperation: Sometimes, if key witnesses are uncooperative or unavailable, it may weaken the case, leading the prosecution to drop or reduce the charges.
- Plea Bargaining: In many cases, the defendant’s attorney may negotiate with the prosecution to reach a plea bargain. This could involve pleading guilty to a lesser charge, resulting in a reduced sentence.
- Self-Defense or Justification: If the defendant can establish that they acted in self-defense or were justified in their actions, it may lead to a reduction or dismissal of the charges.
- Diversion Programs: For certain first-time offenders or cases with mitigating circumstances, the court may offer diversion programs. Completing such a program could lead to the charges being dropped or expunged.
- Mental Health Evaluation: In cases where mental health issues played a significant role in the assault, a mental health evaluation may be conducted. If it is determined that the defendant’s mental state affected their actions, it could lead to a reduction in charges or alternative sentencing.
- Victim’s Wishes: While not a guaranteed method, sometimes, if the victim expresses a desire not to pursue the charges, it may influence the prosecution’s decision to drop or reduce the charges.
It’s important to note that each case is unique, and the outcome will depend on the specific details and evidence involved. If you or someone you know is facing assault charges in Colorado, it is crucial to seek the advice and representation of an experienced criminal defense attorney who can navigate the legal system and work towards the best possible resolution for the case.
What Evidence Will Be Used in Court?
The evidence used in an assault case can vary depending on the specific circumstances of the incident and the type of assault charges involved. Generally, the following types of evidence may be presented in court:
- Witness Testimonies: Testimonies from individuals who witnessed the alleged assault can be crucial evidence. This includes both eyewitnesses and individuals who may have heard or seen something related to the incident.
- Victim Statements: The alleged victim’s statement is essential, as it provides their account of what happened and the extent of any injuries or harm they suffered.
- Medical Reports: If the alleged victim sought medical attention after the assault, medical records and reports can be presented as evidence to document injuries and connect them to the alleged incident.
- Photos and Videos: Photographs and videos of the crime scene, injuries, or the incident itself can be strong pieces of evidence to help establish what occurred.
- 911 Calls or Police Reports: Recordings of emergency calls or police reports filed at the time of the incident can provide important details about the alleged assault.
- Physical Evidence: Any physical evidence collected at the scene, such as weapons, objects, or other items involved in the assault, may be presented in court.
- Expert Testimonies: Depending on the nature of the case, experts, such as medical professionals or forensic specialists, may be called upon to provide their professional opinions or analyses related to the evidence.
- Prior Threats or Incidents: Past behavior or communications between the parties involved may be introduced to show a pattern of behavior or establish motive.
- Character Witnesses: Both the prosecution and the defense may call character witnesses to speak to the reputation and behavior of the parties involved.
It is essential to remember that the prosecution must prove the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The defense, on the other hand, may present evidence to challenge the prosecution’s case, provide an alibi, assert self-defense, or raise doubts about the reliability of the evidence presented.
If you are facing an assault charge, it is vital to consult with a skilled criminal defense attorney who can evaluate the evidence against you and build a strong defense strategy to protect your rights and interests in court.
How Long Does the Legal Process Typically Take?
The length of the legal process for an assault charge in Colorado can vary depending on several factors. It is challenging to provide an exact timeline as each case is unique and may encounter different circumstances. However, the process typically involves the following stages:
- Arrest: After the alleged assault, if law enforcement believes there is sufficient evidence to support the charge, they may arrest the defendant.
- Initial Appearance and Bond Hearing: The defendant will have an initial appearance before a judge, during which they will be informed of the charges and their rights. A bond hearing may also take place to determine if the defendant can be released on bail pending trial.
- Arraignment: At the arraignment, the defendant will enter their plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest).
- Pre-Trial Motions and Discovery: Both the prosecution and the defense will exchange evidence and may file pre-trial motions to address specific legal issues.
- Plea Negotiations: The prosecution and the defense may engage in plea negotiations to explore the possibility of reaching a plea bargain.
- Trial: If the case does not result in a plea bargain, it will proceed to trial. The trial phase includes jury selection, presentation of evidence, witness testimonies, and closing arguments.
- Verdict and Sentencing: After the trial, the jury or judge will render a verdict (guilty or not guilty). If the defendant is found guilty, a separate sentencing hearing may be held.
- Appeal (if applicable): If the defendant is convicted, they may have the right to appeal the decision if there were legal errors during the trial process.
The duration of each stage can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case, court caseload, availability of witnesses, and other factors. Some assault cases may be resolved within a few months, while more complex cases could take a year or longer to reach a conclusion.
If you or someone you know is facing an assault charge in Colorado, it is essential to consult with a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your rights throughout the legal proceedings.
What Factors Could Affect My Assault Charge Sentencing?
In Colorado, the sentencing for assault charges can significantly vary depending on several factors evaluated by the judge post-conviction. These factors include mitigating and aggravating circumstances and factors.
Mitigating factors are those elements or circumstances that may decrease the severity of a criminal offense, potentially reducing penalties such as fines and prison sentences. On the opposite spectrum are conditions or facts that may worsen the penalties – aggravating factors.
The most common mitigating and aggravating factors that affect sentencing include:
Defendant’s Criminal Record: Past behavior patterns play an instrumental role in deciding sentences. An individual with a clean criminal history will likely receive lighter punishment than someone with a history of recurring offenses – particularly if the past offenses are of the same nature as the current conviction. To a judge, this often indicates that the defendant “hasn’t learned their lesson.”
Age and Sophistication: A defendant’s age and comprehension level can also be related to their sentencing decision. This is particularly true in cases involving minors or individuals who might not fully comprehend their actions’ implications. In these cases, penalties may be on the lighter end.
However, the opposite is also true. Age and sophistication as aggravating factors revolve around the idea that a person, being older or more sophisticated, should enjoy a higher standard of judgment than someone younger or less experienced in the world. Essentially, this suggests that with age comes wisdom and therefore one is expected to comprehend the potential consequences of their actions in depth.
Further, if you’re involved in criminal activity and pull a minor into it with you, judges are likely to significantly enhance your penalties.
Circumstances of The Crime: Details surrounding the crime itself can act both as a mitigating or aggravating factor, and they primarily focus on the specifics surrounding how the crime was committed.
As a mitigating factor, it could involve situations where you played only a minor role in the commission of the offense. For instance, if you were merely an accomplice rather than the principal actor in carrying out criminal activity.
Conversely, circumstances can be used as aggravating factors when more negative aspects are involved with your actions. This might include committing offenses against particularly vulnerable victims (like children or those with disabilities), using deadly weapons to carry out the crime, or committing the offense with a high level of violence or brutality.
Remorse Shown: The court also looks at the defendant’s demeanor and attitude after the incident. If they show genuine remorse for their actions, it may be considered a mitigating factor that could encourage leniency.
However, if a defendant feigns remorse or attempts to use it dishonestly to manipulate legal proceedings for lighter punishment despite having no true feelings of regret, that will of course be viewed negatively by the judge.
Personal Stress Levels: Though it doesn’t exempt defendants from accountability, acknowledging extreme personal stress when committing a crime might serve as a mitigating factor. If stressors were severe enough to impair judgment drastically, this might result in reduced sentencing.
Note that these factors don’t guarantee lighter sentences but help a judge make their decision.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer can vary significantly based on several factors, including the attorney’s experience, reputation, location, the complexity of the case, and the charges involved. Here are some common fee structures used by criminal defense lawyers:
- Hourly Rate: Some attorneys charge an hourly rate for their services. The hourly rate can range from $100 to hundreds of dollars per hour, depending on the lawyer’s experience and location.
- Flat Fee: Many criminal defense lawyers offer flat fees for specific services, such as representing a client throughout the entire case or handling a particular phase of the legal process (e.g., arraignment, plea negotiations, trial).
- Retainer Fee: Some lawyers require clients to pay a retainer fee upfront, which is a predetermined amount used to secure the lawyer’s services. As the lawyer works on the case, the fees are deducted from the retainer. Once the retainer is depleted, additional fees may be required.
- Contingency Fee: Contingency fees are more common in civil cases, but in some instances, criminal defense lawyers may offer this fee arrangement for certain types of cases. With a contingency fee, the lawyer only receives payment if they achieve a favorable outcome, such as an acquittal or a reduced sentence.
The cost of hiring a criminal defense lawyer is an important consideration, but it is also essential to remember that experienced and skilled attorneys may be better equipped to achieve a favorable outcome in a criminal case. In some instances, public defenders may be available to those who cannot afford a private attorney.
If you are facing assault charges and are concerned about the cost of legal representation, it is advisable to discuss your financial situation and explore fee options with potential lawyers during initial consultations. Some attorneys may be willing to work out payment plans or provide a sliding scale fee structure based on a client’s ability to pay. Remember that investing in an experienced criminal defense attorney can significantly impact the outcome of your case and may be well worth the expense.
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