The Colorado Criminal Defense Bar has been working to pass HB-15-1303, sponsored by Representative Melton, which will end the mandatory minimum sentence for 2nd degree assault on a peace officer.
The current felony law for this crime carries, upon conviction, a mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years in prison, up to 8 years. This mandatory minimum sentence applies even when there is no serious bodily injury and no weapon was used.
HB15-1303 simply removes the mandatory minimum sentence of 4 years and instead aligns this offense with other class 4 felonies. It does not change the level of crime (class 4 felony). This will allow a judge can take into consideration the circumstances of the individual case.
Research shows that mandatory minimum sentences are not effective tools for the prevention of crime. Mandatory minimum sentences prevent courts from imposing a sentence that is individualized to the defendant and based on circumstances of the crime. For instance, a defendant that is accused of spitting on an EMT while being attended to, and for this they are facing a mandatory minimum of 4 years. In practice, these minimums are often used to suppress a defendant’s right to trial by forcing a plea bargain because going to trial and losing is too risky.
There is significant opposition to this bill from prosecutors, law enforcement, EMTs, and firefighters. This bill would not reduce the protections on these first responders, it would just give defendants more opportunity to scrutinize the evidence against them and would allow judges to determine appropriate sentences for specific actions. We need to act now to make sure our client’s voices are heard. Click here to look up your local representative in the Colorado State House.