What is 2nd Degree Assault in Colorado?

Assault occurs any time one person causes bodily harm to another or even causes the other person to fear bodily harm. But not all assaults are equal. What do you know about 2nd degree assault in Colorado?

Colorado defines 2nd-degree assault as one person intentionally hurting another. However, 2nd-degree assault only involves non-serious injuries. More serious injuries could result in a first-degree assault charge. 

In this post, Denver attorney Jeff Weeden will explain second-degree assault charges as well as the possible penalties. We’ll also talk about potential legal defenses.

What is the Difference Between 1st and 2nd Degree Assault in Colorado?

In Colorado, there are three degrees of assault:

  • 1st-degree assault
  • 2nd-degree assault
  • 3rd-degree assault 

For now, we’re going to focus primarily on 2nd degree assault. The main difference between the first and 2nd degrees is the severity of injuries to the other party.

2nd degree assault involves intentionally causing non-serious injuries to another person. 

First degree assault involves intentionally causing severe injuries to another person. Third-degree assault involves causing injuries by accident. 

Colorado 2nd Degree Assault

Alright, let’s dive in. 

C.R.S. 18-3-203 defines second-degree assault. This statute makes it illegal to do any of the following:

  • Intentionally cause an injury with a deadly weapon
  • Recklessly causing an injury with a deadly weapon
  • Intentionally hurt someone to prevent a police officer, firefighter, or EMT from working
  • Intentionally cause someone else to suffer a physical or mental impairment. This includes knocking them unconscious or drugging them without their consent
  • Try to infect an emergency responder or prison worker by using bodily fluids
  • Knowingly use physical force against an emergency responder, prison worker, or court worker
  • Cause a serious injury while trying to cause a less serious injury
  • Intentionally hurting someone by suffocating or strangling them

Here are some examples of second-degree assault in Colorado:

  • Pistol-whipping 
  • Shoving a police officer
  • Pushing someone down a short flight of stairs.

Obviously, second-degree assault in Colorado is pretty broad, and potentially encompasses a lot of behaviors. Attorney Weeden will answer some of the more frequently asked questions below.

What’s the Difference Between A Bodily Injury and a Serious Bodily Injury?

Colorado defines a bodily injury as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition”. 

A serious bodily injury is, well, more serious. It usually involves a significant risk of death but can also involve the impairment of a body part or an internal organ. It may involve broken or fractured bones. Second and third-degree burns are serious bodily injuries.

As we mentioned above, causing bodily injuries can result in a 2nd-degree assault charge. Serious bodily injuries more often result in a first-degree assault charge. This could double the potential jail time for the defendant. 

What is a Deadly Weapon?

In some cases, the use of a deadly weapon is a big part of second-degree assault. 

A deadly weapon can be:

  • Firearm, even if it is not loaded
  • Knife or other blade
  • Bludgeon or club, including a baseball bat, or
  • Anything that someone could use to cause death or serious bodily injury 

Here’s a somewhat unorthodox example. Say that someone is driving and recklessly takes their eyes off the road for more than ten seconds. They cause a car accident that paralyzes another driver. In this case, the car would be a deadly weapon. The courts could charge the driver with second-degree assault.

What Are The Penalties for Colorado 2nd Degree Assault?

2nd-degree assault is a class 4 felony in Colorado. This could result in two to six years in jail, as well as a fine of at least $2000. 

There are several defenses that may reduce the possible sentences. However, even reduced sentences are serious. A conviction for 2nd-degree assault puts a felony on your criminal record. It can affect your right to vote, your second amendment rights, and make it very difficult to get a job. These are penalties that may be even more difficult to overcome than jail time.

What Are The Legal Defenses For 2nd Degree Assault?

There are a few potential legal defenses for 2nd-degree assault. Most of them will be more effective if you contact a lawyer as soon as possible to help build your defense. 

Some of the most common defenses include:

  • Self-defense or defense of others
  • Lack of intent, and
  • Heat of passion 

We’ll go over each of them in detail.

Self-defense or Defense of Others

It can be justifiable to hurt someone else to defend yourself. It also may be justifiable to hurt someone else to defend a third party in Colorado.

Claiming self-defense or defense of others is pretty complicated. There are numerous pros and cons. 

Proving you acted in self-defense involves proving that you:

  • Believed someone else was about to use unlawful force against you or another person, and
  • Used as much force as you believed necessary to protect yourself or that third party. 

Additionally, the courts must deem these beliefs reasonable for this defense strategy to work.

Lack of Intent to Commit An Assault 

In most cases, second-degree assault requires you to act with intent. At the least, it requires you to be acting recklessly with a deadly weapon. 

If you can prove the injury was accidental, you may be able to defend against second-degree assault. You can also show that you were making a mistake. 

Heat of Passion

Colorado’s statute outlining 2nd-degree assault expressly allows for the heat of passion defense. 

This would reduce the conviction to a Class 6 felony, the least serious felony in Colorado. You must prove:

  • The other person did something highly provoking
  • The provocation would have created an irresistible passion to act in any reasonable person, and
  • There was not enough time for you to calm down before you caused the injury 

Contact WeedenLaw

Jeff Weeden is an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney. If you or a loved one is facing 2nd-degree assault charges, contact WeedenLaw at 720.307.4330. You can also leave us a message on our website. 

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