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There are no two ways about it: assault charges have the potential to turn your life upside down. As serious as the situation you’re facing may be, it’s good to know that charges don’t always result in a conviction. There are many assault defense strategies that an experienced Denver criminal defense attorney can employ on your behalf to prevent a conviction and the consequences associated with it.

Assault charges 101: What is assault?

The definition of assault varies from one state to the next, but it’s generally defined as intentionally putting another individual “in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact.” It’s important to note that physical injury is not required to be charged with assault.

In Colorado, there are three degrees of assault:

  1. First degree assault: This is the most serious type of assault, as it comes into play if you knowingly caused serious injury to another person. You can also be charged with first degree assault if you were acting negligently, thus leading to injury. 
  2. Second degree assault: This form of assault is less serious than first degree, but still associated with serious punishments if convicted. The main difference between second and first degree assault is that second degree is if you cause bodily injury — but not serious bodily injury. 
  3. Third degree assault: This type of assault is defined as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury. 

What are the penalties in Colorado for assault?

The penalties for assault range in severity, with the potential to include: jail time, community service, and fines. Here’s a breakdown of penalties associated with each degree of assault:

  • First degree assault: Charged as a felony, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of six years. 
  • Second degree assault: Also a felony, a conviction carries a minimum prison sentence of four years. 
  • Third degree assault: As a class 1 misdemeanor, penalties can include up to two years in prison. 

What is assault and battery?

Assault and battery is generally more serious than assault only. Above, we talked about the three degrees of assault. Now, let’s look at some common examples of battery:

  • Grabbing a person with the intent to cause harm
  • Nursing home abuse
  • Unwanted touching

In many cases, if you’re charged with assault you’ll also be charged with battery. This can lead to a more serious punishment if convicted. 

What is aggravated assault?

Depending on the circumstances and evidence of the case, a simple assault charge can be elevated to a more serious aggravated assault. Aggravated assault is typically charged as first or second-degree assault, which are both felonies with the potential for a long prison sentence. 

Is it necessary to hit someone in order to be found guilty of assault?

You can be charged with and found guilty of assault even if you don’t strike another person. The only thing that is necessary is a reasonable belief that harmful contact will be inflicted on the victim.

Furthermore, striking someone isn’t the only form of assault. It can also entail things such as coughing or spitting if done in a purposeful manner.

What are the elements required to prove an assault?

  • The defendant intended to cause the victim harm or make them aware that they may be harmed.
  • The victim must believe that the defendant could be harmful to them.
  • The victim must believe that the harm was imminent, as opposed to a future threat.
  • The defendant must show some type of behavior that implies they have intentions to harm the victim.

What are the legal defenses to assault charges?

man arrested for assault charges
An experienced Denver criminal lawyer can challenge assault charges using various legal defense strategies such as that you acted in self-defense or duress.


Assault charges don’t always result in a conviction. You have the legal right to defend yourself against the charges, using strategies devised by an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer:

  • Lack of proof or evidence: The victim must be able to satisfy the burden of proof by providing evidence to back up the claim of assault.
  • Involuntary intoxication: If you were involuntarily intoxicated at the time of the crime, such as the result of being drugged, you can argue that your actions were unintentional. 
  • Consent: It’s rare, but if the victim provided voluntary consent to the assault, it’s a sound defense strategy.
  • Duress: If you were under duress at the time of the crime, you can use this as a defense strategy. For example, you may be able to prove that someone forced you to choose between committing assault or suffering physical harm. 
  • Self-defense: With this, you admit that you committed the crime, however, you argue that you did so to protect yourself and/or someone else. 

Facing assault charges in Colorado? Contact our Denver criminal defense lawyer

If you find yourself faced with any type of assault charge, consult with an experienced Denver criminal defense lawyer. At the Law Offices of Steven J. Pisani, LLC we have over a decade of experience helping good people through tough times across Colorado. We have successfully defended many people charged with assault, battery, and related crimes. Contact us online or give us a call today to schedule a free consultation. 


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