An assault in the third degree is the most minor in severity. However, it is still a misdemeanor of extreme risk, affecting an individual’s record and often impacting their future in terms of career, school, and the eyes of the law. A third-degree assault is committed when an individual knowingly, by way of negligence, or recklessly causes another person to suffer bodily injury, typically using a deadly weapon. A “deadly weapon” can refer to a gun or knife but sometimes regular items like a rock or belt.

Furthermore, third-degree assault can be charged if the defendant knows or reasonably should know that the other party is an officer of the peace, firefighter, or an emergency medical technician (EMT) and that party is harassed, irritated, threatened, injured, or infected by being exposed to bodily fluids (blood, urine, feces, saliva, secretions, or hazardous or otherwise toxic substances). Common defenses for this degree of assault are self-defense, accidental in nature, or a false accusation.

What is a Colorado Second-Degree Assault Charge?

A second-degree assault charge in Colorado is intentionally causing serious injury to another without the use of a deadly weapon. The main difference between a third-degree felony and a second-degree felony is the degree of harm or injury caused, threatened, and intended to the alleged victim. Additionally, a second-degree felony in Colorado, unlike a first-degree, is no longer a misdemeanor offense but upgraded to a felony and punishable in Colorado by a maximum of 12 years in prison and up to $500,000 in potential fines.

What is a Colorado First-Degree Assault Charge?

Intentionally causing severe bodily harm, such as disfiguring (temporarily or permanently), destroying, amputating, or using a deadly weapon to disable a body part or organ of the victim permanently, constitutes first-degree assault — the most severe class of assault in Colorado. Assault in the first degree may also be charged if a person shows extreme indifference to the significance of human life, engages in conduct that threatens others’ lives, and inflicts serious bodily injury on them. If convicted of first-degree assault, an individual can be liable for up to $750,000 in fines and 32 years in prison (with a minimum of 10 years).

Additional Forms of Assault in Colorado

There are many types of assault, including vehicular assaults, reckless endangerments, and assaults against the elderly. These types of assault cases can either be misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances and conditions surrounding them. Contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney after an arrest is essential if any type of assault is suspected.

Domestic Violence Assault Charge

Nowadays, an assault charge can result from a misunderstanding between friends, an altercation outside a store, or even on what may start as a quiet night at home.

In Colorado, domestic violence assault entails the victim being physically injured by the defendant while being in an intimate relationship with him or her. The offense of assault in Colorado involves harming (inflicting or threatening bodily injury) another person intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly. Assault can occur even if the damage is not severe. The term “bodily injury” refers to any form of physical discomfort, illness, or impairment. Besides physical violence, domestic violence can also take the form of threats against another person. Other scenarios that often qualify as domestic violence are threatening or harming another’s property, or even an animal if used for coercive purposes, to gain control, punish, intimidate, or perpetrate revenge against the alleged victim. It is possible to receive jail time, restraining orders, and a firearm ownership ban upon conviction of an assault charge in the context of domestic violence.

Additionally, if you are convicted of domestic violence assault or other related charges, you must complete a mandatory treatment program. An assault charge related to domestic violence dispute can also result in additional charges with additional penalties. Criminal mischief charges could be added to the arrest if anything at the residence was damaged during the conflict. It is also important to note that if a child (minor) was present or deemed at risk during the reported domestic dispute, you could be facing an additional child abuse charge.

Speaking to a Colorado criminal defense attorney following an arrest for domestic violence charges is crucial as there are often severe consequences and emotionally painful ramifications attached to such an arrest. Notably, there is no separate criminal offense for domestic violence assault in Colorado. Individuals suspected of committing domestic violence assault face a charge of assault and additional charges related to domestic violence, making cases much more complex.

To reduce and minimize challenges, charges, and sentencing, you should consult and work closely with your criminal defense attorney. Lastly, it is vital to obey any mandates imposed by the court, such as abiding by emergency or temporary restraining orders. Domestic violence “no contact” orders are typically placed in Colorado domestic violence cases as part of the defendant’s bail conditions when released from jail. Courts in Colorado take such orders seriously. Violators are subject to an additional charge of violating a restraining order (VRO), sometimes referred to as a violation of a protective order (VPO), and likely contempt of court proceedings.

How does an assault case proceed?

In most cases, an assault charge usually results in an arrest. Following the arrest, you will be transported to jail or a holding facility and undergo a booking procedure. You will wait in jail until your bond or bail hearing. Before 2022, waiting for your hearing typically took several days, sometimes longer. However, new law HB21-1280, which went into effect in April of 2022, requires courts to conduct initial bond hearings online or by phone within 48 hours after an arrested person arrives at a detention facility. Bail allows you to proceed with your daily activities while you await your advisement or arraignment hearing. If you are denied bail, you will have to remain in custody, in jail, until your trial.

As a general rule, an arraignment hearing marks the first appearance in court in a Colorado criminal proceeding and one at which you will be read the charges against you. It is wise to have already reached out to and spoken with a criminal defense attorney and prepared for your hearing as the judge will ask how you plea. Most cases do not go to a trial as one may envision; however, an attorney can review your charges, the details of your case, and the police report and determine the likelihood of trial or which course of action is best for your case.

In addition, your lawyer may have the opportunity to meet with the prosecution before the hearing and begin negotiations regarding a plea agreement or the charges and sentencing. When charged with assault, the advice and knowledge of a criminal defense lawyer can assist in achieving fairer outcomes, such as fine reduction and mitigating the impacts of the charges and their associated consequences. Moreover, if a plea is not reached and going to trial is necessary, a Colorado criminal defense attorney can navigate the proceedings and formulate the best defense strategy available to you and your unique circumstances.

It doesn’t matter if it is a misdemeanor or a felony; an assault charge will destroy your chances for a bright future, prevent you from advancing in your career, dictate where you can and cannot live, and make your life much more challenging overall. An experienced Boulder criminal defense attorney can help if you’ve been arrested, are facing charges, are contemplating a plea, or need assistance with other aspects of your case.