blog Violent Crime What Is “Second-Degree” Assault in Colorado?

What Is “Second-Degree” Assault in Colorado?

By Colorado Attorney-at-law on August 30, 2023

Under Colorado law, assault crimes are divided into three categories: third-degree, second-degree, and first-degree assault. Although not as severe as first-degree assault, while more serious than third-degree assault, second-degree assault is a serious criminal offense in Colorado that can lead to severe penalties such as imprisonment. However, the severity of the penalty someone convicted of assault depends on which category of assault their conduct falls under.

As a result, distinguishing between the degrees of assault can have a significant impact on the outcome of the accused’s ultimate sentence. Therefore, it is important to understand the metes and bounds of what constitutes second-degree assault in Colorado and the applicable defense strategies and penalties involved.

Defining Second-Degree Assault in Colorado

The law governing the criminal status of assault is section 13-3-203 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. According to section 13-3-203, assault in the second degree is committed 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…”

Generally, the prosecution must prove the following elements in second-degree assault cases:

  • Intent to inflict harm;
  • Causing others bodily injury; or
  • Circumstances relevant to a specific type of assault under section 13-3-203

Importantly, the legal definition of “bodily injury” is fairly broad, covering a wide range of harms that do not rise to the level of “serious bodily injury.” When the injury in question rises to the level of “serious bodily injury,” the accused may be charged with first-degree assault.

Furthermore, Section 13-3-203 specifies different scenarios where an individual may be tried and convicted of second-degree assault.

Types of Second-Degree Assault Charges

Section 13-3-203 lists specific intentionally inflicted harms that qualify as second-degree assault, including:

  • Use of a deadly weapon
  • Preventing emergency responders from providing emergency care
  • Using substances to drug others
  • Assaulting emergency responders or law enforcement while imprisoned or in custody
  • Assaulting detention center employees with bodily fluids
  • Strangulation

Importantly, intent remains a crucial element that applies to the different scenarios mentioned under Colorado’s second-degree assault statute. However, many of these situations constitute aggravating factors—such as whether a weapon was used or a protected person was victimized—that may enhance the penalties a defendant may face if found guilty of second-degree assault.

Legal Consequences and Penalties

In general, second-degree assault qualifies as a class 4 felony and a crime of violence. Class 4 felonies are punishable by prison sentences between two and six years. However, crimes of violence trigger mandatory sentencing laws where the accused faces between five to 16 years of incarceration. Therefore, second-degree assault carries penalties that are more stringent than other class 4 felonies.

Effective Defense Strategies

When facing second-degree assault charges under CRS Section 13-3-203, it’s essential to employ a comprehensive defense strategy that takes into account the specific circumstances of your case. Although each case is unique, some common defense strategies can be effective.

  • One strategy is to argue self-defense or defense of others. If you can demonstrate that your actions were necessary to protect yourself or someone else from imminent harm, this may be a valid defense.
  • Another defense tactic is to argue lack of intent. This could be a defense if your actions were accidental or lacked the intent to cause harm. For example, if the injuries were the result of a genuine mistake.
  • If you can prove you were not present when the alleged assault occurred, you can use an alibi as a defense against the charges. To weaken the case against you, challenge the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses and point out inconsistencies in their testimonies. Arguing that you were wrongly identified as the assailant by casting doubt on the identity of the attacker can also be used.

Furthermore, you can challenge aggravating factors, such as using a weapon, to potentially reduce the charges or penalties. It’s crucial to work with an experienced attorney who can assist you in navigating the legal system and building a powerful case for a successful defense against second-degree assault charges.

Are You Facing Second-Degree Assault Charges?

If you are facing second-degree assault charges, it is in your best interest to have an experienced criminal defense attorney handle your case. You can rely on Whitaker & Penix, LLC to cultivate the best possible strategy, custom-tailored to meet your needs.

With over a decade of combined legal experience, our Breckenridge violent crime defense lawyers are prepared to guide you through the legal process and fight for your rights every step of the way. We are committed to protecting our clients’ freedom and developing an iron-strong defense.

Call (970) 368-0602 to learn more. We never stop fighting for our clients.

Posted in: Violent Crime