Two similar charges that are often confused with each other are CRS 18-3-204 Third-Degree Assault and CRS 18-3-206 Menacing. While the situations surrounding these crimes are often identical, the actual charges are based on two very different sets of events occurring.

Q: What is assault?

First of all, let’s start by looking at how assault is defined in the Colorado criminal code. Assault has multiple levels under the current statutes, with third-degree being the lowest.

Third-degree assault is defined as follows:

(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.

Assault requires one party to physically harm the other party unless that other party is a protected class under (1)(b).

In other words, assault is synonymous with causing injury to another person.

Q: What is menacing?

Menacing, on the other hand, is slightly different than assault as defined above. In Colorado, menacing is defined as follows:

(1) A person commits the crime of menacing if, by any threat or physical action, he or she knowingly places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Menacing is a class 3 misdemeanor, but it is a class 5 felony if committed:

(a) By the use of a deadly weapon or any article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a deadly weapon; or

(b) By the person representing verbally or otherwise that he or she is armed with a deadly weapon

In other words, menacing is synonymous with threatening injury to another person.

Even the physical action contained in the statute is one that places or attempts to place another person in a situation where they fear for their own personal wellbeing.

Specifically, menacing requires that someone fear threat of serious bodily injury, which is defined in section 42-4-1601(4)(b):

“Serious bodily injury” means injury that involves, either at the time of the actual injury or at a later time, a substantial risk of death, a substantial risk of serious permanent disfigurement, or a substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any part or organ of the body, or breaks, fractures, or burns of the second or third degree.

The statute clearly indicates that Serious Bodily Injury, or SBI, needs to include significant damage. This is contrasted with the “bodily injury” terminology used in third-degree assault, which is a lower level of harm, which is why it lacks the “serious” denomination.

More serious degrees of assault, including second and first do have an SBI component. In summary, the key differences between assault and menacing are in the level of action that occurs:

  • To commit assault, an individual has to inflict some level of damage.
  • To commit menacing, an individual merely has to put someone into a situation where they fear that they will sustain harm.

The level of harm one must fear of sustaining is higher in menacing than in assault, but as the assault becomes more serious, the terminology of Significant Bodily Injury (SBI) is included in both statutes.

Q: Can someone be charged with both assault and menacing at the same time?

Yes. It is possible to be charged with both menacing and assault at the same time. An example of this would be an individual causing bodily injury while in possession of a weapon. The bodily injury is assault, and the possession of a deadly weapon would constitute menacing if the person wielding the weapon was using it to threaten the person they assaulted.


If you’re being charged with assault or menacing in Colorado, it’s crucial that you contact a criminal defense attorney today. Watch our recent video Understanding Assault Charges in Colorado for more information, then contact Krizman Law today so we can provide you with a relentless criminal defense.

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Frequently Asked QuestionsFAQ: What Is the Difference Between Assault and Menacing?