3rd-degree assault is the lowest level assault charge in Colorado. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 2 years in jail and fines from $500 to $5,000. To prove a case of 3rd-degree assault, the prosecution must show that you intentionally or recklessly caused bodily injury to another person or acted with criminal negligence to injure someone while using a deadly weapon. The injuries need not be serious; the prosecution only needs to prove that the victim suffered an injury and you were the cause.
To secure a conviction, the prosecution must prove that you:
3rd-degree assault can be distinguished from other more serious forms of assault by the nature of the victim’s injuries. In cases of this type of assault, the victim only needs to have suffered some bodily injury; the injury need not be serious.
Examples of serious bodily injuries include:
Colorado courts have found that the only difference between 3rd-degree assault and 2nd-degree assault is the severity of the victim’s injuries. If the victim’s injuries are serious, you will be charged with 2nd-degree assault. Charges of 3rd-degree assault involve less severe injuries.
To do something “knowingly” means you were aware of what you were doing and that it was “practically certain to cause the result.” Committing an act “knowingly” is less than doing something intentionally, but more than just taking a risk.
To act “recklessly” means you consciously ignored the substantial risk that something would happen. To act recklessly is to be aware of the dangers of your actions and choose to ignore those dangers.
You can also be charged with 3rd-degree assault if you act with criminal negligence and cause injury to someone else using a deadly weapon.
Criminal negligence is the failure to perceive the substantial risk that a result is likely to occur. Criminal negligence is more than simple negligence and requires an almost blind ignorance of risk.
A deadly weapon is any device, implement, material, or substance that can be used to cause death or serious bodily injury. Guns, knives, and other blunt instruments are all examples of deadly weapons.
Because the only difference between 3rd-degree assault and 2nd-degree assault is the severity of the victim’s injuries, the defenses to charges of 3rd-degree assault are similar to those that can be raised against charges of 2nd-degree assault. They include:
You can defend against charges of this type of assault by proving that you were defending yourself or someone else. This is an affirmative defense, and you must show that:
3rd-degree assault requires a showing that you acted knowingly or intentionally to cause bodily injury to someone else. You can overcome a charge by proving that you did not have the requisite intent and instead acted negligently. You cannot be convicted of 3rd-degree assault for accidentally causing an injury.
Many people are charged with 3rd-degree assault because the accuser has an ulterior motive. The accuser is trying to gain leverage or is retaliating against the defendant. You can defend against these charges by showing that your accuser had an ulterior motive to file the charges.