Second Degree Assault, codified in Colorado as CRS 18-3-203, is a highly complex and detailed statute. It encompasses offenses ranging from causing bodily injury with a deadly weapon to subjecting a law enforcement officer to saliva. If you have been charged with second-degree assault, just reading over the statute can be a confusing and daunting task. Figuring out what the possible sentence is and whether that sentence includes a mandatory prison sentence can seem like trying to decode a lost language. Krizman Law is here to help.
Second degree assault can be unpacked and broken into three different sections, “non-mandatory sentencing not a crime of violence,” “non-mandatory sentencing crime of violence,” and “mandatory sentencing crime of violence.” 1 We will start with the non-mandatory offenses:
Non-Mandatory Sentencing Not a Crime of Violence
The following second-degree assault offenses do not have mandatory prison sentences and are not subject to the crime of violence sentencing statute, CRS 18-1.3-406:
- Intent to cause bodily injury by applying pressure to impede or restrict breathing or circulation
- Intent to infect, injure, or harm a first responder by causing them to come into contact of any bodily fluids, harmful, or toxic substance
- Causing Physical Impairment Through Administration of Drugs
- Inmates Applying Force to Peace Officers of Detention Facility Personnel
The above second-degree assault offenses are charged as Class IV Felonies. All second degree assault offenses are extraordinary risk crimes, however, not all are crimes of violence. The above offenses are not considered crimes of violence. The sentencing guideline for extraordinary risk Class IV Felonies is 2-8 years of prison and a fine of $2,000 – $500,000, with 3 years mandatory parole. It is worthwhile to note, Colorado law authorizes many alternatives to prison including deferred prosecution, deferred sentencing, probation, and community corrections. In situations where serious bodily injury is caused to a third-party non-defendant during the commission of another felony, the above offenses become Class III Felonies and carry a sentencing guideline of 4 to 16 years and fines of $3,000 to $750,000 with a mandatory parole of 5 years.
Non-Mandatory Sentencing Crime of Violence
- Intentional bodily injury (not serious) by means of a deadly weapon
- Recklessly causing serious bodily injury by means of a deadly weapon
- When intending to cause bodily injury causes serious bodily injury
- Intentional bodily injury to a first responder
The above second-degree assault offenses are charged as extraordinary risk Class IV Felonies crimes of violence. Because the above offenses are considered crimes of violence, they carry a different sentencing guideline. Instead of the minimum sentence of 2 years, crimes of violence carry a potential of at least the midpoint (5 years) but not more than double the maximum (16 years). It is worthwhile to note, Colorado law authorizes many alternatives to prison including deferred prosecution, deferred sentencing, probation, and community corrections. If any of the above cause serious injury to someone not a defendant or co-defendant during the commission of another felony, second degree assault is charged as a Class III Felony extraordinary crime of violence which carries penalties of 10 to 32 years in prison and fines of $3,000 to $750,000 with a mandatory parole period of 5 years. Under the revised statute, courts are not required to impose a mandatory prison sentence but still must follow the other sentencing requirements if found guilty.
The following second-degree assault offenses have mandatory prison sentences:
- Serious Bodily Injury to a non-party during the commission of a felony
- Intentional Serious Bodily Injury on a Police Officer
Just like the non-mandatory classifications, the above second-degree assault offenses are charged as Class IV Felonies and are considered extraordinary risk crimes of violence. However, unlike the first two groups, these offenses do carry mandatory prison sentences. In Colorado, courts are required to impose a mandatory prison sentence of no less than 5 years (the midpoint of the presumptive sentencing range) up to a maximum of 16 years (double the maximum of the presumptive sentencing range). In addition, Courts require a mandatory parole period of 3 years and between $2,000 and $500,000 in fines. If any of the above are charged as Class III felonies because it caused serious bodily injury to someone not a defendant or co-defendant during the commission of another felony, Courts are required to impose a mandatory prison sentence of no less than 10 years (the midpoint of the presumptive sentencing range) up to a maximum of 32 years (double the maximum of the presumptive sentencing range).
Heat of Passion
If any of the above definitions are committed in the “heat of passion” after the victim provokes the offender into performing the act which takes place immediately after, then the offender is charged with a Class VI felony extraordinary risk or extraordinary risk crime of violence. Such Class VI felonies carry punishments of 1 to 2 years in prison, fines of $1,000 to $100,000, and a mandatory parole period of 1 year For those offenses considered crimes of violence the sentencing structure is similar to that above, i.e. at least the midpoint (1.5 years) but not more than double the maximum (4 years).
If the defendant has been charged with a second degree assault and it is considered a crime of violence, the defendant has the right to a preliminary hearing (unless the defendant is charged by grand jury indictment). It is imperative that a defendant request a preliminary hearing.
Second-degree assault is very complex. If you have been charged with second degree assault, it is critical to understand the possible consequences and what you are up against. When charged with any crime, any punishment is a serious matter and having the best legal representation on your side is imperative. If you are facing felony charges and need a relentless Denver criminal defense attorney to fight on your behalf, call Krizman Law today at 303.529.2677.
1 This analysis does not account for sex assault crimes.
Mr. Krizman is a criminal defense attorney in Denver, Colorado. He specializes in providing relentless defense for domestic violence, DUI, and drug crimes. He is a former public defender who has also worked for a district attorney and is licensed in the State of Colorado, and the United States Federal Court, District of Colorado. Mr. Krizman is a member of the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar, Colorado Bar Association, Denver Bar Association, and Arapahoe County Bar Association. A Colorado native, he has a law degree from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and a bachelor’s degree in Government and World Affairs from the University of Tampa. Contact him today at 720.819.7317.