1st Degree Assault

1st Degree Assault is an incredibly 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. 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 1st degree assault, the most serious of the bunch. If you have been charged with 2nd degree assault, click here. If you have been charged with 3rd degree assault, click here.

1st degree assault applies to several different scenarios ranging from assault with a deadly weapon to assaulting a police officer.

Colorado has the following definition for 1st degree assault:

“(1) A person commits the crime of assault in the first degree if:

(a) With intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury to any person by means of a deadly weapon; or

(b) With intent to disfigure another person seriously and permanently, or to destroy, amputate, or disable permanently a member or organ of his body, he causes such an injury to any person; or

(c) Under circumstances manifesting extreme indifference to the value of human life, he knowingly engages in conduct which creates a grave risk of death to another person, and thereby causes serious bodily injury to any person; or

(e) With intent to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider, he or she threatens with a deadly weapon a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or emergency medical service provider acting in the performance of his or her duties; or

(e.5)  With intent to cause serious bodily injury upon the person of a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court, he threatens with a deadly weapon a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court, and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is a judge of a court of competent jurisdiction or an officer of said court; or

(f) While lawfully confined or in custody as a result of being charged with or convicted of a crime or as a result of being charged as a delinquent child or adjudicated as a delinquent child and with intent to cause serious bodily injury to a person employed by or under contract with a detention facility, as defined in section 18-8-203(3), or to a person employed by the division in the department of human services responsible for youth services and who is a youth services counselor or is in the youth services worker classification series, he or she threatens with a deadly weapon such a person engaged in the performance of his or her duties and the offender knows or reasonably should know that the victim is such a person engaged in the performance of his or her duties while employed by or under contract with a detention facility or while employed by the division in the department of human services responsible for youth services. A sentence imposed pursuant to this paragraph (f) shall be served in the department of corrections and shall run consecutively with any sentences being served by the offender. A person who participates in a work release program, a furlough, or any other similar authorized supervised or unsupervised absence from a detention facility, as defined in section 18-8-203(3), and who is required to report back to the detention facility at a specified time shall be deemed to be in custody; or

(g) With the intent to cause serious bodily injury, he or she applies sufficient pressure to impede or restrict the breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying such pressure to the neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person and thereby causes serious bodily injury.[i]

In order to convict you of first degree assault, a district attorney must prove that you 1) knowingly or recklessly 2) did one of the things listed above. 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.[ii]

1st degree assault is classified differently depending on the type of assault alleged, ranging from a Class 5 Felony to a Class 3 felony. In any scenario where you are convicted of 1st degree assault, you will be sentenced to prison, and potentially a lot of it. There is a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison for individuals convicted of 1st degree assault in Colorado.

Ultimately, the stakes are high in 1st degree assault cases. You are looking at lengthy prison time. 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 1st degree assault in Colorado, call us today for a free consultation regarding your case.

[i] C.R.S. §18-3-202

[ii] Colo. Jury Instr., Criminal 3-2:20