Under Colorado law, assault and menacing are two separate but related crimes:
Colorado law defines “assault” as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person.
“Menacing” (called “battery” in some states) occurs when, by any threat or physical action, you knowingly place or attempt to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. It is the threat of assault.
There is no clear line for which crime you might be charged with. Much depends on the discretion of the prosecutor. Having an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer can make the difference between a felony assault charge that can land you in prison, and a misdemeanor menacing charge punishable by 6 months in jail tops (and for which you can often receive probation).
Experience you can trust
Our Denver criminal defense lawyers have a great deal of experience defending clients throughout Colorado on assault and menacing charges.
The best time to retain us is before charges have been filed, but if you've already been charged don't despair. Our attorneys know the local courts and the prosecutors from the Denver District Attorney and the Jefferson County District Attorney. We understand how and why they choose to charge defendants and what types of arguments and evidence can cause them to reduce the charges -- or sometimes even drop the case.
The assault / menacing arrest
Although you will sometimes hear on a news site that someone was arrested for assault, it is ultimately up to the prosecutor to review the facts and choose which (if any) crime to charge you with. The prosecutor will usually look at the police report and charge you with the most serious crime he or she thinks might stick. The assumption is that you will plead not guilty. If the prosecutor overcharges you, offering to reduce the charges can be a powerful incentive to induce you to "settle" the case with a Colorado plea bargain.
But these so-called "reduced" charges may still be more serious than what your actions warrant. By investigating the facts and circumstances, we are often able to uncover evidence in our client's favor. Maybe the lighting at the scene didn't allow for positive identification of you or a clear view of whether you had a weapon. Maybe the other person was the aggressor. Maybe there was no actual physical contact or, if there was, you were provoked.
Once the prosecutor understands ALL the facts and that you are willing to fight the charges, you will often get a better deal. Our Denver and Golden criminal attorneys will look for everything that points to your innocence. Then we will work to get the prosecutor to drop your cases or to offer you a deal that you can live with.
An overview of Colorado assault and menacing laws
Which charge is brought against you depends on the seriousness of the injury, the weapon used, and the victim. From most to least serious, the possible charges are:
- 1. First degree assault -- 18-3-202, C.R.S.,
- 2. Second degree assault -- 18-3-203, C.R.S.,
- 3. Menacing with a deadly weapon -- 18-3-206, C.R.S.,
- 4. Third-degree assault -- 18-3-204, C.R.S., and
- 5. Menacing -- 18-3-206, C.R.S.
First-degree assault is one that results in serious bodily injury. There are many ways to commit Colorado first degree assault. They include:
- You intentionally cause serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon,
- You intentionally disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or destroy, amputate, or disable permanently a member or organ of his body,
- You cause serious bodily injury to someone after knowingly creating a grave risk of death, or
- You intentionally cause serious bodily injury to a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical service provider.
First degree assault is a felony as well as a "crime of violence." Penalties for first-degree assault in Colorado can include up to 32 years in prison and fine of up to $750,000.
Second-degree assault is similar to first-degree assault except that the resulting injury need not be as serious. Specific crimes that constitute Colorado second degree assault include:
- You intentionally cause bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon,
- While intending to injure someone, you cause serious bodily injury,
- You injure someone while intentionally interfering with a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical service provider trying to do his/her duties,
- While in custody, you knowingly and violently apply physical force against a peace officer, firefighter, EMT, judge or court official, or
- While in custody, you throw bodily fluids at an employee of the detention facility.
Second-degree assault is a felony and a "crime of violence." Penalties for second-degree assault in Colorado can include up to 16 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Menacing is a felony when you put someone in fear of immediate physical injury because:
- You threaten that person with a deadly weapon or an item that appears to be a deadly weapon, or
- You represent verbally or otherwise that you are armed with a deadly weapon.
Consequences of Colorado felony menacing can include up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000. Please see our extended article on felony assault laws in Colorado.
You commit Colorado third-degree assault when:
- You knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person,
- You negligently cause bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
- You intentionally throw bodily fluids, or toxic, caustic or hazardous materials at a peace officer, firefighter or emergency medical service provider.
Penalties for Colorado third-degree assault can include up to 2 years in prison and/or a fine of up to $5,000.
You commit misdemeanor menacing when by a threat or physical action:
- You knowingly place or attempt to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.
As a misdemeanor, menacing can be punished by up to 6 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $750.
Call us for help...
Our caring and experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyers know there are at least two sides to every story. Tell us your side of things and find out why we are considered among the best criminal lawyers in Denver.
To reach us use the form on this page, or contact us at:
Colorado Legal Defense Group
4047 Tejon Street
Denver CO 80211
Arrested in California? See our article on California battery laws | Penal Code 242 PC.
Arrested in Nevada? Go to our article on the Nevada crimes of assault and battery in Nevada (NRS 200.471).