Assaults and Related Offenses
The term "assault" generally means that a person has caused physical contact to another person resulting in some degree of bodily injury. Under Colorado law, there are several different degrees of assault, each carrying its own classification of severity and penalties. In addition, there are several charges that are derived from an assault, but which do not necessarily require physical contact or injury.
First and Second Degree Assault
First Degrees Assault and Second Degree Assault are both classified as felony offenses and require that the person charged intended to cause physical contact that resulted in serious bodily injury. “Serious bodily injury” has a specific legal definition that the injury is such that there is a substantial risk of death or permanent disfigurement, or involves impairment of an organ or a fracture of a bone. In addition to being felony offenses, with certain exceptions for Second Degree Assault, both offenses are designated as crimes of violence which carry mandatory prison sentences.
Third Degree Assault
Third Degree Assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, the most serious classification for misdemeanors, and only requires that the victim suffer “bodily injury”, which simply requires that there be some degree of pain associated with the physical contact. Under this definition, even a slap to the face or body which causes the victim pain is considered “bodily injury”. While a court cannot impose a prison sentence on a misdemeanor offense, the crime and therefore is not punishable by a prison sentence. However, Third Degree Assault is designated as an “extraordinary risk” offense, which increases the maximum sentence a court could impose.
Vehicular Assault is an assault in which the victim is injured either in a vehicle or by a vehicle. The most common form of vehicular assault arises from an auto accident where a passenger or pedestrian is injured by a drunk or impaired driver.
In this type of offense all of the elements normally associated with a DUI case are involved, as described under the DUI heading. However, vehicular assault can also occur when the driver of a vehicle drives recklessly and thereby causes serious bodily injury to either a passenger or pedestrian. The best example of this type of vehicular assault is when someone is injured in a high-speed chase or street racing. Vehicular assault is classified as a felony offense, but is not a crime of violence.
In a vehicular assault involving a DUI, it is crucial to have a knowledgeable and skilled defense attorney conduct a thorough investigation which exposes the faulty science associated with DUI charges.
Menacing, Reckless Endangerment, and Harassment
There are also offenses which are related to an assault, but do not involve physical contact or injury. Menacing, for example, is simply a threat or simulated threat of an assault. Menacing is a misdemeanor, but if a deadly weapon is used, it is classified as a felony.
The criminal offense of Reckless Endangerment involves behaviour which creates a substantial risk of injury, but does not actually result in injury. Reckless Endangerment is a Class 3 misdemeanor, which is the lowest classification of misdemeanor offenses.
Harassment is also a misdemeanor offense and simply requires physical contact that is intended to annoy, harass, or alarm the other party. In any case involving an assault charge, it is imperative to be proactive in order to preserve your right to defend yourself. In many assault cases, self-defense may apply, depending upon the charge and the circumstances, and witnesses will need to be interviewed to preserve their memory of the events.
Call for a Free Consultation
If you have been charged with an assault or related-offense, the Sarbaugh Law Firm has the skill and experience to present your best defense and minimize the consequences of an assault charge. We have a long track of successfully defending assault charges resulting in acquittals at trial. We have also skillfully negotiated favorable plea agreements for our clients when a trial is not the best option. Give us a call and let us explain in a FREE telephone consultation how our experience and expertise can be put to work for you.