December 2, 2023

Understanding the distinctions between felonies and misdemeanors is vital, especially when considering offenses such as assault in Colorado. Assault charges in Colorado vary in severity, often depending on the degree of bodily injury inflicted. Two primary categories of crimes are felonies and misdemeanors, each carrying its own set of consequences and legal implications. Within Colorado, categorizing an assault as either a felony or misdemeanor can significantly impact the penalties the accused faces. This article delves into the intricate differences between felony and misdemeanor assault in Colorado, clarifying what sets them apart and the ramifications of each classification.

Felony Charges for Assault in Colorado

When it comes to understanding the legal landscape of felonies in Colorado, the intricacies can often seem overwhelming, especially when considering assault charges. Assault in Colorado has multiple degrees, with varying severities leading to various penalties, from misdemeanor charges to serious felony offenses. This detailed exploration delves into the felony types, liabilities, and complex framework under Colorado criminal defense law.

Felony Types and Penalties

In Colorado, assault charges can vary significantly based on the type of assault, the intent behind the action, and the degree of harm caused. Here’s a breakdown:

First Degree Assault

Assault in the first degree is the most severe form of assault. Typically, first-degree assault involves the intent to cause serious bodily injury to another person, often with a deadly weapon. Situations where assault occurs in a sudden heat of passion, provoked by the victim, can also fall into this category. This type of assault is considered a class 3 felony in Colorado, with penalties that include significant jail time and hefty fines.

Class 3 felony convictions are punishable by minimum fines up to $10,000 US Dollars (USD) and two to 10 years of prison time, depending on the assault crime; for certain serious felony offenses, fines can go up to $100,000 and a sentence of up to 20 years.

Examples: First-degree murder (premeditated killing), aggravated rape (rape involving a weapon or causing severe injury), kidnapping with the intent to commit another felony, or severe forms of embezzlement involving large sums of money.

Second-Degree Assault

Assault in the second degree is also a felony in Colorado. This degree usually encompasses intentionally causing injury with a deadly weapon, drugging someone without their consent, or causing injury while intending to prevent a peace officer from performing their duties. Depending on the circumstances, second-degree assault can be classified as a class 3 or class 4 felony.

Example: Second-degree murder (a murder that is not premeditated or one done in the heat of passion), sexual assault, arson of an unoccupied building, or drug trafficking in large amounts.

Third Degree Assault

Assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado. However, don’t let the misdemeanor classification downplay its seriousness. Third-degree assault involves knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another. Though assault in the third degree is a class 1 misdemeanor, its repercussions can be lasting and severe.

Example: Manslaughter (unintentional killing without malice), aggravated assault, robbery without a weapon, or possession of significant amounts of certain controlled substances.

Fourth-Degree Felony

This category might be included in some jurisdictions to classify further crimes that don’t meet the severity of third-degree felonies but are more serious than misdemeanors.

Example: Breaking, grand theft of property over a specific value (the value threshold can vary by jurisdiction), or forgery.

Vehicular Assault

This refers to when a person recklessly or under the influence causes injury to another using a vehicle. Depending on the circumstances, vehicular assault may be charged as a class 4 or class 5 felony.

While the three degrees of assault dominate the conversation, Colorado law defines assault in various other categories, too. These can include different types of assault, like menacing, which can either be a misdemeanor or a felony, based on using a deadly weapon.

Misdemeanor Charges in Colorado

Navigating the legal landscape can be challenging, especially when distinguishing between criminal charges. In Colorado, misdemeanors, although less severe than felonies, still carry significant penalties that can impact a person’s life. Understanding the nature of misdemeanor charges and the associated fines is essential for anyone facing such allegations or aiming to be more informed about Colorado’s legal system.

Misdemeanor Types and Penalties

Misdemeanors in Colorado are less severe than felonies but more serious than petty offenses. At the same time, a Colorado felony carries heavier penalties and long-term consequences. A misdemeanor, although a lesser criminal charge, still poses ramifications that can be considerable. The punishment for misdemeanors usually includes fines and/or jail time of less than a year. Like felonies, misdemeanors are often categorized into different classes or levels, with Class A (or Class 1) being the most serious.

Classes of Misdemeanors:

Colorado categorizes misdemeanors into three classes, with class one misdemeanors being the most serious while class three assault is the least serious. The penalties increase with the seriousness of the misdemeanor class.

Class One Misdemeanor

This is the most severe misdemeanor category. An example under Colorado’s assault laws is third-degree assault. An assault conviction under this class would carry the heaviest penalties among misdemeanors. Individuals can face misdemeanor sentences that may include jail time, fines, or both. The specific sentence often depends on the crime’s details and the defendant’s criminal history.

Examples: Petty theft (depending on the jurisdiction and the value of the stolen property), simple assault, shoplifting, first-time DUI offenses (varies by state), or violation of a restraining order.

Class Two and Three Misdemeanors

These categories include lesser offenses but still carry penalties that can include jail time and fines, albeit generally less than a class one misdemeanor.

Example: Trespassing, harassment, first-time possession of small amounts of certain controlled substances, or disorderly conduct.

Class C (or Class 3) Misdemeanor

These are typically the least severe misdemeanors, carrying the lightest penalties.

Examples: Public intoxication, minor in possession of alcohol, traffic violations that exceed infractions (like driving without a valid license), or simple assault where the injuries are minimal.

Misdemeanor Crimes

Colorado misdemeanors cover a range of offenses. While assault is a class one misdemeanor, other crimes like theft of property valued under $750 or certain types of harassment can also fall under misdemeanor crimes. It’s important to understand that the nature of an assault is different from other misdemeanors; the intent, harm caused, and circumstances play a pivotal role in how Colorado prosecutors approach the case.


A misdemeanor sentence in Colorado can vary based on the crime and class. For instance, while a class one misdemeanor can result in up to 18 months in jail, a category three misdemeanor, being the least serious, might lead to a shorter jail term or even just fines.

Impact of Misdemeanor Convictions

Misdemeanor convictions, though less severe than felony convictions, can still have lasting consequences. They can affect employment opportunities, housing applications, and future legal system interactions. Furthermore, having a misdemeanor on one’s record can influence the outcome if one were to face misdemeanor or felony charges in the future.

Differences between misdemeanor and felony

Under Colorado law, the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony usually pertains to the severity of the offense and the corresponding penalty.

  • Misdemeanor: Typically, a misdemeanor is a less severe crime than a felony. The misdemeanor penalty usually involves a fine, probation, community service, or imprisonment in a county jail for less than a year. For instance, third-degree assault, in many cases, is classified as a misdemeanor in Colorado, mainly when it doesn’t involve domestic violence or result in serious bodily injury.
  • Felony: This is a more severe charge. Felonies in Colorado, including first-degree assault, often result in a felony conviction with significant consequences. These include long-term imprisonment, hefty fines, probation, or other stringent measures. A felony conviction can also affect an individual’s rights, such as voting or owning firearms.

When faced with assault charges in Colorado, especially in places like Colorado Springs, it’s crucial to understand the implications of the costs. Whether you’re facing a misdemeanor for third-degree assault or a felony charge for causing serious bodily injury intentionally, seeking representation from a skilled assault lawyer is essential. These professionals can navigate the intricacies of Colorado law and ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process.

Why a Criminal Lawyer is Important When Dealing with a Felony or Misdemeanor in Colorado

When faced with the daunting prospect of a felony or misdemeanor charge in Colorado, especially related to assault, the importance of hiring a competent criminal justice attorney cannot be overstated. Here’s why:

Understanding the Nuances of Assault Charges: In Colorado, not all assault charges are created equal. From felony assaults, which are among the gravest offenses, to lesser misdemeanors, the distinctions are crucial. For instance, while assault is a class 1 misdemeanor in certain circumstances, under more severe conditions, it could be categorized as a class 6 felony. Navigating these classifications requires a thorough understanding of Colorado’s legal landscape, something that a seasoned criminal lawyer offers.

Protecting Your Rights: Charging with a felony, particularly a felony assault charge, carries significant legal implications. If convicted of assault or any other felony, the consequences can be life-altering. Beyond the immediate penalties for assault, being convicted of a felony can impact future employment, housing, and other aspects of life. A criminal lawyer is equipped to protect the rights of the accused, ensuring that all legal processes are correctly followed.

Potential for Reduced Charges: With deep knowledge of the legal system, a criminal lawyer can negotiate or advocate for lesser charges. In some cases, they might be able to get assault charges that get dismissed altogether or downgraded to a more manageable level, impacting the severity of potential penalties.

Guidance on Penalties and Consequences: The penalties for assault in Colorado can range from fines and community service to imprisonment. It’s not just about understanding the immediate implications of a charge of assault but also recognizing the longer-term repercussions of being convicted of a felony. A skilled attorney can guide an individual through these complex ramifications.

Assisting with Record Sealing: Colorado law offers specific provisions for getting criminal records sealed, which can be invaluable for someone looking to move past their mistakes. If assault would lead to a conviction, knowing when and how records can be sealed in Colorado becomes crucial. A criminal lawyer provides the expertise needed to navigate this process.

Advising Through the Legal Process: From the moment one is charged with a felony to potential court proceedings, having an expert who understands the intricacies of Colorado’s criminal justice system is indispensable. They can advise on best practices, rights, and strategies to handle the complexities of the system.

Facing a felony or misdemeanor, especially related to assault, is a severe matter in Colorado. Given the complexities surrounding charges like class 6 felony assaults or the nuances of being convicted of a felony, enlisting the services of a knowledgeable criminal lawyer is not just beneficial—it’s essential for ensuring the best possible outcome.


Knowing what’s the difference between a felony and a misdemeanor in Colorado, especially for assault, is essential. As discussed in this article, there are different types of assault charges. Some are more serious and can lead to big problems if you’re found guilty. This is why it’s crucial to understand the laws in Colorado. If someone is facing an assault charge, they should get a lawyer. Right Law Group can help explain things, protect you, and help you get back on the right track. In short, if you’re dealing with legal issues related to assault in Colorado, this article gives a good starting point to know what’s happening.