blog Violent Crime The Differences of Bodily Injury and “Serious” Bodily Injury

The Differences of Bodily Injury and “Serious” Bodily Injury

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on August 15, 2023

Crimes that leave victims with injuries are taken seriously by prosecutors and the courts. However, the circumstances that legally constitute “serious bodily injury” as a distinct condition from “bodily injury” can present a challenge for defendants.

However, the legal consequences for a crime resulting in serious bodily injury are distinctly more severe, resulting in enhanced penalties such as increased prison sentences and larger fines. As a result, understanding the line that distinguishes the two is critical to building an effective defense against your criminal charges.

The Distinction Between Bodily Injury and Serious Bodily Injury

Colorado draws a distinction between “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury” that can lead to significant legal implications for the accused. This distinction reflects the law’s concern for consequences suffered by the victim of criminal conduct.

Under Colorado law, “bodily injury” is defined as “physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition.” The term “bodily injury” covers a broad spectrum of conditions, ranging from minor cuts and bruises to severe life-changing injuries and injuries resulting in physical or mental impairments.

According to Section 42-4-160(14)(b) of the Colorado Revised Statutes, the term “serious bodily injury” refers to “injury that involves, either at the time of the actual injury, or at a later time, a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or 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.”

Therefore, the distinction between bodily injury and serious bodily injury is one of degree: serious bodily injury is effectively a more severe form of bodily injury that results in—or has a substantial risk of permanent loss of bodily function or death.

How Distinction Can Affect Your Case

The practical implications of distinguishing between these terms impact the severity of the charges that confront the criminally accused. For example, crimes that involve serious bodily injury can elevate charges to a felony and lead to a proportional increase in penalties, such as longer prison sentences, higher fines, and stricter terms for probation.

The distinction between bodily injury and serious bodily injury can result in enhanced charges for violent crimes, including assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and vehicular assault.

Legal Defense Strategies

When it comes to criminal defense, injury classifications can play a major role in determining the potential consequences for the accused. But your Summit County defense lawyer will have an array of strategies at their disposal to challenge these classifications and improve your chances of a positive outcome. One such strategy is to engage medical experts to evaluate injuries and potentially dispute the severity of the injury in question. Additionally, attorneys may choose to dispute causation, arguing that their client did not actually cause the injury.

When faced with criminal charges, several defense strategies could be very effective. One approach is presenting a case for self-defense or defense of others, which can be effective in cases where physical harm was inflicted upon the accused. Additionally, victim statements may be challenged if they are found to be inconsistent or unreliable, and inadequate evidence may be pointed out to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. Surveillance footage and witness testimony may also be presented to support the defense.

Alternative explanations for injuries may also be presented to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. An alibi defense may be used to demonstrate that the accused was not present at the scene of the crime when it occurred. Each case is unique, and experienced lawyers carefully evaluate the facts to determine the best approach for seeking a favorable outcome for their client.

Consult a Breckenridge Criminal Defense Attorney to Protect Your Rights

When it comes to legal distinctions like “bodily injury” vs. “serious bodily injury,” clarity is key to obtaining a favorable outcome. If you are facing criminal charges, Whitaker & Penix, LLC is here to provide the trusted legal guidance you need.

Our Breckenridge violent crime defense attorneys have the experience and resources to build the strongest possible defense so that you can face your charges with confidence. Whitaker & Penix, LLC proudly holds an “A” rating from the Better Business Bureau and is well-versed in navigating the complexities of the Colorado criminal justice system.

Contact us at (970) 368-0602 to arrange a complimentary consultation today.

Posted in: Violent Crime