Assault charges are serious, but different types of assault cases result in harsher penalties. One of these charges is domestic assault. Domestic violence is a prevalent issue in Colorado, and offenders can lose certain rights if they are convicted.
If you have been charged with domestic assault or a related crime, it is important to understand what you are facing and the actions that distinguish domestic assault from less serious crimes. The more you know about the law, the better understanding you will have about your options for defending yourself in court.
What Is “Assault” in Colorado?
Before we zoom in on domestic assault, let’s look at what constitutes assault in Colorado. Assault doesn’t always just involve physical harm.
The basic definition of assault according to Colorado law is: “Knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or with criminal negligence the person causes bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon.”
Another clause of this law expands assault crimes if people with special authority (peace officers, emergency medical service providers, etc.) are victims. If the defendant “causes the other person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine…or toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means,” they may be charged with assault.
This is third degree assault, which is the least serious of Colorado assault crimes. Defendants convicted of third degree assault will face the penalties for class 1 misdemeanors, including up to 18 months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.
If the injury is serious, or the defendant uses a deadly weapon to commit assault, the charges may be increased to first or second degree assault. These are both felony offenses with higher penalties. Defendants convicted of felony assault could spend years behind bars. The law also dictates that penalties will increase if the defendant has prior domestic violence convictions.
Colorado Domestic Assault and Domestic Violence Charges
The relationship between the alleged victim and the defendant will determine whether or not an assault charge becomes domestic assault. A crime of violence is domestic violence if the alleged victim and defendant:
- Are spouses or significant others
- Live together as roommates or housemates
- Are co-parents
- Are relatives (including a parent-child or brother-sister relationship)
If someone is convicted of domestic assault, they may be sentenced to prison or have to pay fines as well as face penalties for domestic violence. Domestic violence is not a separate charge. Possible penalties for domestic assault in Colorado include:
- Having to abide by a permanent protection order
- Going to a treatment center
- House arrest
Colorado (and federal law) also prohibits people who have been convicted of domestic assault from owning or purchasing a firearm. This includes misdemeanor offenses and domestic violence crimes outside of domestic assault. A domestic violence conviction may also indirectly have an effect on your ability to get a job or find an apartment.
Defending against Colorado Domestic Assault Charges
A domestic assault charge may result in a temporary protection order and the temporary loss of firearm rights, but you will not face other penalties unless you are convicted. In order to avoid a conviction, you will need to build a strong and aggressive defense strategy to show that you did not commit domestic assault.
Reach out to a Colorado domestic violence lawyer to learn more about the strategies you can use to avoid conviction and receive the best possible outcome.
About the Author:
Since 2005, Jeffrey L. Weeden has been practicing criminal defense law in Colorado and has helped countless clients protect their rights and freedoms as a respected, caring, hard-nosed criminal defense attorney. Over the course of his career, Mr. Weeden’s work has been recognized in numerous ways, including being named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers list by The National Trial Lawyers, earning a 10.0 “Suberb” Avvo rating, receiving Martindale-Hubbard’s highest peer review rating — AV Preeminent, and being asked to speak on several issues of interest to the legal community. Additionally, he is someone who cares deeply about his community and those in need, and is an active member of a number of professional legal organizations, including the Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center and Law Firm Pro Bono Coordinators.