Becoming physically violent toward another person can lead to assault charges. Every state has its own definition of assault and unique charges that apply to acts of physical violence. The difference in terminology and rules often confuses those accused of assault.
Colorado has numerous categories of assault, ranging from when a person recklessly but unintentionally injures someone else to when they knowingly assault someone with a disability. The different degrees of assault all result in different criminal charges.
Some are felony offenses, while others are misdemeanors. When does an assault become a felony in Colorado?
The intent to cause harm makes the charge of felony
Of the three standard degrees of assault outlined in Colorado law, only third-degree assault is a misdemeanor offense. When you hurt someone else through negligence or carelessness without the intention of hurting them, the state might charge you with a misdemeanor third-degree assault offense.
However, if prosecutors believe there was an intention to cause bodily harm, they will charge you with a felony assault offense, which carries greater consequences. A first-degree assault charge could lead to up to 24 years in prison and $750,000 in fines, while a third-degree assault charge only carries up to six months in prison.
Both second-degree assault and first-degree assault require that the person charged intended to cause bodily harm. The main difference between these two categories is the degree of injury someone intended to cause to the victim.
Learning about the relatively strict Colorado approach to assault offenses and obtaining experienced legal guidance can help you determine the best criminal defense strategy.