Being charged with first degree assault is an extremely serious matter. Assault in the first degree is the most severe assault charge, carrying with it enormous fines and a lengthy prison sentence if convicted. If you have to fight this charge, there are five important things you need to know about first degree assault.
Here’s What You Need to Know About First Degree Assault
1.) How Colorado Defines First Degree Assault
What is first degree assault? Colorado defines it as assault you commit where you knowingly and intentionally tried to inflict a great deal of bodily harm on another person. It goes beyond just trying to hurt someone; first degree assault assumes you were trying to cause serious pain, or possibly even kill someone. Your actions paint the picture that you lack regard for the value of human life.
The first degree assault definition contains four subsections:
- Assault with a deadly weapon.
- Assault with the intent to cause disfigurement, amputation of a limb or limbs, or serious injury to an organ or organs.
- Assault with the intent to cut off a person’s airway through strangulation or suffocation.
- Intention to harm a police officer, judge or another member of the court, firefighter, EMS technician, or member of the detention facility in which the person accused of assault is being held.
2.) What Happens If You Are Convicted of First Degree Assault
First degree assault is considered a “Crime of Violence” in Colorado. As such, the first degree assault sentence will result in mandatory prison time. Assault in the first degree is a class 3 felony. Your prison term will be a mandatory minimum of 10 to 32 years in the Colorado Department of Corrections.
3.) How Much It Will Cost You
On top of a prison sentence, you can also be hit with a hefty fine as part of your first degree assault penalty. The fine for first degree assault can range anywhere between $3,000 to a whopping $750,000.
It is possible to defend yourself against a first degree assault charge. If the court finds you acted in a way that is not defined by Colorado’s first-degree assault statute, the charges against you could be lessened.
There are a few possible defenses:
- You acted in self-defense. Often, people who are charged with first degree assault were defending themselves against a person who was assaulting or attempting to assault them. If you were attacked by someone who intended to do you harm and you fought back, you may be able to get your charges reduced.
- You were on the job. This defense is really more for police officers since they are authorized to use force while on the job. As a police officer, you could encounter a suspect who is in possession of a deadly weapon and who you believe is planning to inflict harm on you or another person. In this instance, you are allowed, per your job, to use excessive force to take a suspect down. In many cases, the use of excessive force can cause severe injuries, which can possibly lead to first degree assault charges.
- You were under duress. While this defense is not the most common, it’s still something that can happen. If you were under duress because another person forced you to commit assault, you could potentially seek lesser charges. An example of this defense could include a person who orders you to injure another person and threatens to harm your family if you don’t cooperate.
- The “Heat of Passion.” This defense is a little different than self-defense, because you weren’t really trying to harm the other person. Getting caught up in the “heat of passion” means you were provoked by someone and had little time to think about the consequences before you reacted. The other person provoked you in a way that made you so angry, you just reacted.
The Colorado statutes specifically call out heat of passion crimes. If you are able to prove that the assault you committed was in the heat of passion, your charge will be reduced from a Class 3 felony to a class 5 felony. While it is still a felony charge, it carries a shorter prison term and smaller fines than those of class 3.
How a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help You
Make no mistake – a first degree assault charge will enormously impact your life. If convicted, you will go to prison – there is no such thing as a suspended sentence for a crime of violence. You could also face fines that could reach sums in the hundred thousands – a figure so frighteningly high you may never be able to pay it off.
A first degree assault conviction will take you away from your family and possibly keep you from getting a job, buying a house, or enjoying life the way you once did. Your family will be torn apart, your friends may abandon you, and you will walk around with the label “felon” forever.
For all these reasons, you may want to consider hiring a seasoned criminal defense attorney to help you.
At Geman Legal, we work with many defendants in the Denver and Boulder areas facing dangerous criminal charges. Our attorneys listen carefully to your story and help you organize a defense strategy that will work best in your case. We are not afraid to get aggressive with the court system and defend your freedom.
Call us today at (303) 357-3035 to begin work immediately, or send us an email to schedule a consultation.