Assault is a serious crime. When you’ve been accused of committing a crime “against a person” (rather than property), you’re looking at serious penalties, and you can expect to be judged harshly by the system. There are, of course, different levels, or degrees, of assault. The degree of assault changes with the harm presented or danger posed to the victim. The degrees of assault, in order of increasing seriousness, are 3rd, 2nd, and 1st degree assault. Here, we will focus on 3rd degree assault.
Colorado has the following definition for 3rd degree assault:
“(1) A person commits the crime of assault in the third degree if:
(a) The person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person or with criminal negligence the person causes bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon; or
(b) The person, with intent to harass, annoy, threaten, or alarm another person whom the actor knows or reasonably should know to be a peace officer, a firefighter, an emergency medical care provider, or an emergency medical service provider, causes the other person to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or toxic, caustic, or hazardous material by any means, including throwing, tossing, or expelling the fluid or material.”
Basically, to convict you of third degree assault, a district attorney would have to prove that you 1) knowingly or recklessly 2) caused bodily injury to another person. That means that you cannot commit assault on accident, and that you cannot commit assault if you do not cause bodily injury. Further, there may be affirmative defenses available to you, such as self-defense. If you argue self-defense, the district attorney will also have to disprove that you were acting in self-defense.
3rd degree assault is a class 1 misdemeanor and is an extraordinary risk crime that is subject to a modified sentencing range. That means that if you are convicted, you’re looking at a minimum sentence of six months’ imprisonment and/or a $500 fine and a maximum sentence of 18 months’ imprisonment and/or a $5,000 fine. And because it is an “extraordinary risk” crime, the maximum sentence is increased by 6 months, to 2 years’ imprisonment. The court can, however, sentence you to an alternative instead of jail, like in-home detention or work release.
Ultimately, the stakes are high in assault cases. You are looking at jail time and serious fines. Many times, however, incidents of physical conflict are messy and convoluted, and persons can be wrongly charged when they were only defending themselves. Defenses are available to you, and you should hire counsel ready to fight for them. CGH lawyers have handled a variety of assault cases and have successfully obtained complete dismissal of charges, allowing our clients to have their records’ sealed. If you’ve been charged with 3rd degree assault in Colorado, call us today for a free consultation regarding your case.
 C.R.S. § 18-3-204.
 Colo. Jury Instr., Criminal 3-2:20
 C.R.S. § 18-3-204(3).
 C.R.S. § 18-1.3-501(1)(a).
 C.R.S. § 18-1.3-501(3)(a)-(b).