How A Good Defense Attorney Can Fight Back Against Assault Charges
A conviction on assault charges can hit you pretty hard. As a crime of violence, assault is a serious offense. Colorado prosecutors will charge you with assault if you intentionally injure another person, even if you didn’t mean to cause the physical harm that resulted from your actions.
The consequences you face upon conviction of assault depend on various factors. These include the nature and extent of the injuries to the other person, if a weapon was involved, or whether the person accusing you of assault gets special protection under Colorado law (more on that below).
That is why getting assault charges dropped or reduced is of the utmost importance for anyone in the crosshairs of prosecutors looking to obtain an assault conviction. But what qualifies as assault in Colorado, and what defenses can an experienced Colorado Springs assault lawyer raise on your behalf? Keep reading to find the answers.
What Are Colorado Assault Charges?
A person commits assault under Colorado law when they recklessly or knowingly cause bodily injury to another person. El Paso County prosecutors can charge assault as either a misdemeanor or a felony. The nature of the assault and its intent, whether a deadly weapon is part of the assault, and the degree of harm and injury resulting from the accused actions will determine what charges and potential penalties a defendant will face. Other factors include whether the victim was on duty at the time of the assault as a:
- Peace officer;
- EMT or another first responder;
- Jail or prison employee where the defendant is in incarceration.
Assault In The Third Degree
Assault in the Third Degree is the least serious and most common Colorado assault charge. A Colorado class 1 misdemeanor, third-degree assault involves either knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person or negligently inflicting bodily injury to another with a deadly weapon.
Assault In The Second Degree
Second-Degree assault is when someone intentionally causes serious bodily injury without a deadly weapon, inflicts serious bodily injury using a deadly weapon, or intentionally drugs another without their consent.
Assault In The First Degree
First-Degree assault occurs when a person intentionally uses a deadly weapon to seriously injure, permanently disfigure, or damage the organ functions of another person.
Defenses To Assault Charges That Can Get Them Dropped or Reduced
Because of the seriousness of the charges against them, individuals facing assault charges are wise to hire an experienced Colorado Springs assault lawyer to assert one or more defenses to defeat or reduce the charges. Two of the most common are self-defense and “sudden heat of passion.”
Your criminal defense attorney may convince prosecutors to drop or reduce assault charges by proving that you acted in self-defense. That is, you were protecting yourself or another person from physical harm when you committed the alleged assault. But self-defense must be proportionate to the threat or harm. The use of deadly force can only support a claim of self-defense if it appeared that the other person was about to cause serious bodily injury, assault, kidnap, or sexually assault you or the other individual you were defending.
“Sudden Heat Of Passion”
Colorado law recognizes that there are some circumstances where a person provokes someone in a way that is so extreme that it causes the person on the receiving end of such provocation to momentarily lose control and react suddenly, violently, and without any prior intent. The classic example of acting in the “sudden heat of passion” is where someone finds their spouse or significant other committing an act of infidelity and immediately attacks their partner and/or the other individual involved.
As a defense, sudden heat of passion may not result in the dismissal of charges, but it can play a role in convincing prosecutors that they should reduce the charges to a lesser offense.
Additional Defenses Available
Several other potential defenses could lead to prosecutors dropping or reducing assault charges, including:
- Someone else committed the assault;
- You did not cause any injury;
- The injuries you caused were not “serious bodily injuries”;
- You did not intend to cause injury;
- You did not use a deadly weapon;
- Any contact was unintentional or accidental;
- You did not know that the alleged victim of the assault was an on-duty peace officer, firefighter, or another first responder.
Notably, one circumstance that will likely not support a reduction or dropping of assault charges is intoxication. Being under the influence of alcohol or drugs and claiming that you didn’t know what you were doing will likely not save you from the consequences of your actions.
To Give Yourself the Best Chance Against Assault Charges, Hire the Best Criminal Defense Attorney
The best way to give yourself the best chance of reducing or dismissing assault charges in Colorado Springs is to hire an aggressive criminal defense attorney who can put their understanding of the law to work in defending you against the charges and protecting your rights.
Of course, the best criminal defense attorneys are former prosecutors. Their experience on the other side of the courtroom gives them unique insight into how prosecutors approach assault cases and also empowers them to develop an aggressive and thoughtful defense strategy best suited to the facts of the case and the available evidence and testimony.
Are you facing assault charges in Southern Colorado? Request a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney today.