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Are Assault & Battery the Same Thing in Colorado?


Assault and battery are often lumped together as if they’re similar or even the same crime, but these are very different crimes with unique definitions and penalties.

Assault refers to physical behavior that unlawfully causes injury to another person, such as punching, kicking, and the use of weapons. Battery is more commonly referred to as “menacing” in a legal context. It typically involves the use of threats or actions to put someone else in imminent fear of serious bodily injury.

Let’s take a closer look at these crimes on an individual scale.

There Are Three Degrees of Assault in Colorado

Assault is a violent crime that can be charged in three different degrees, depending upon the severity of the allegations or circumstances of the incident.

First-Degree Assault

First-degree assault is the most serious degree. It’s charged as a Class 3 felony, which can result in penalties such as 4 to 12 years in state prison and/or fines from $3,000 to $750,000.

Those charged with this crime are alleged to:

  • Have caused serious injury, permanent disfigurement, or organ damage with a deadly weapon; or
  • Have acted in an extremely risky manner that resulted in serious bodily harm to another person, regardless of intention; or
  • Have intended to seriously injure an on-duty official (such as a police officer), knowing that the official was on-duty, and threatening the on-duty official with a deadly weapon

Second-Degree Assault

Second-degree assault is a Class 4 felony, which means a convicted person can face 2 to 6 years in prison or 2 to 6 years if a deadly weapon or serious bodily injury was involved. In addition to incarceration, a judge can impose fines as great as $500,000.

Circumstances that can lead to a second degree assault charge include the following:

  • Recklessly using a weapon to cause bodily injury; or
  • Intentionally causing serious bodily injury without a weapon or by drugging someone without their consent; or
  • Threatening or intending to prevent an on-duty official from working by causing serious bodily injury; or
  • Causing an on-duty official to come into contact with toxic chemicals or bodily fluids with the intent to harm the official; or
  • Being in custody and applying physical force on an on-duty official or causes a jail worker to come in contact with a bodily fluid, intending harm, harassment, or threat

Third-Degree Assault

Third-degree assault is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable with 6 to 24 months in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines.

Someone accused of third-degree assault is alleged to have:

  • Caused bodily injury knowingly or recklessly; or
  • Caused bodily injury with a deadly weapon under criminal negligence; or
  • Caused an official to come into contact with toxic substances or bodily fluids, intending to threaten or harass the official while knowing the victim is an official

Battery Is Also Known as ‘Menacing’

Menacing (battery) is criminal behavior that places, or attempts to place, someone in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. Such behavior can involve using actions or threats to compel an alleged victim to fear severe harm.

Examples of behavior that can result in charges for menacing include the following:

  • Appearing to get ready to punch someone, either by clenching a fist near their face or apparently winding up to deliver a blow
  • Throwing a dangerous object at someone or in their general direction
  • Threatening to assault someone under any circumstance

Because injuries aren’t a factor in menacing charges, these crimes are often charged as Class 3 misdemeanors unless a deadly weapon is displayed, present, or verbally represented. In the latter case, a Class 5 felony may be charged with penalties as severe as 1 to 3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines. If menacing is charged as a misdemeanor, a convicted person can face up to 6 months in jail and up to $750 in fines.

Representing Clients Accused of Assault or Menacing

The Orr Law Firm can represent clients accused of violent crimes, including assault and menacing. While the potential penalties one can face depends on their charges and the unique circumstances of their situation, any conviction confers a criminal record that can make life more difficult.

If you need to fight back against unfounded accusations or inappropriate criminal charges, our legal team can help. Learn more about our representation when you take advantage of our free consultation.

Request your complimentary meeting with an attorney when you contact The Orr Law Firm online today.