Colorado Aggravated Assault Laws

The state of Colorado separates assault defenses into three degrees, with varying levels of punishments for each crime. First and second degree assault are considered aggravated assault, meaning that the accused intended or caused serious bodily injury, used a deadly weapon, or injured a peace officer (or other protected class of person) in the line of duty.

For more information on assault with a deadly weapon, see Assault With a Deadly Weapon in Colorado.

Aggravated Assault in Colorado

There are three degrees of assault in Colorado, but only first degree and second degree assault are serious enough to be considered aggravated assault. Both crimes are felonies, whereas third degree assault is a misdemeanor.

Assault in the first degree

A person commits assault in the first degree if:

  • with intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon
  • with intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate, or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person
  • under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he knowingly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury to any person, or
  • with intent to cause serious bodily injury to a peace officer, firefighter, judicial officer, or detention facility employee, he or she uses a deadly weapon to threaten the individual (who is engaged in the performance of his or her duties), and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, judicial officer, or detention facility employee.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-202.)

Assault in the second degree

A person commits assault in the second degree if:

  • with intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he or she causes such injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon
  • with intent to prevent one whom he or she knows, or should know, to be a peace officer or firefighter from performing a lawful duty, he or she intentionally causes bodily injury to any person
  • he recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon
  • for a purpose other than lawful medical or therapeutic treatment, he intentionally causes stupor, unconsciousness, or other physical or mental impairment or injury to another person by administering to him, without his consent, a drug, substance, or preparation capable of producing the intended harm
  • while lawfully confined or in custody, he or she knowingly and violently applies physical force against the person of a peace officer, firefighter, judicial officer, or detention facility employee engaged in the performance of his or her duties
  • while lawfully confined in a detention facility within this state, a person, with the intent to harm or threaten a person in a detention facility whom the actor knows or reasonably should know to be an employee of a detention facility, causes the employee to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or any toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means, including but not limited to throwing, tossing, or expelling such fluid or material, or
  • with intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to that person or another.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-203.)

Note that sexual assaults, domestic assaults, and other act-specific assault are separate offenses with different penalties. See Colorado Sexual Battery Laws and Colorado Domestic Violence Laws for more information on these types of assault.

What Constitutes “Serious Bodily Injury?"

Serious bodily injury means bodily injury that, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, involves a 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. A judge or jury must often determine whether an alleged victim has suffered serious bodily injury based on the facts of a case. For example, in one case, stabbing a victim would result in serious physical injury. However, in another case, shooting a victim would not result in physical injury because the victim did not require surgery and did not suffer long-term effects from the shooting.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1-901.)

What Constitutes “Bodily Injury?”

Bodily injury is less significant than “serious bodily injury,” required for first degree assault. Bodily injury means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition. A judge or jury must often determine whether an alleged victim has suffered bodily injury based on the facts of a case. For example, testimony that a victim received a kick to the groin in one case and that a victim had a foot stomped on in another sufficed to prove physical injury in both cases.

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-1-901.)

Penalties for Aggravated Assault in Colorado:

Charge

Classification

Penalty

Assault, First Degree

Felony, Class 3 (or Class 5, if assault is committed in the “heat of passion”)

Class 3: Incarceration of six to 24 years, with fines of $3,000 to $750,000

Class 5: Incarceration of two to six years with fines of $1,000 to $100,000

Assault, Second Degree

Felony, Class 4 (or Class 6, if assault is committed in the “heat of passion”)

Class 4: Incarceration of four to 12 years, with fines of $2,000 to $500,000

Class 6: Incarceration of 15 months to three years, with fines of $1,000 to $100,000

(Colo. Rev. Stat. § § 18-3-202, 18-3-203, 18-1.3-401, 18-1.3-406.)

Plea Options for Aggravated Assault Charges

Any plea option offered by prosecutors will hinge on case-specific considerations; therefore, having legal representation involved from the outset of an arrest on assault charges in Colorado is essential. Plea options will revolve around the reduction of an assault charge to a lesser degree or some form of favorable sentencing arrangement upon conviction.

Getting Legal Help with Aggravated Assault in Colorado

For more information and insight into Colorado assault laws, including information on negotiating a favorable plea agreement, consult with a Colorado criminal defense lawyer to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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