How Does Self-Defense Work in Co-Assault Cases?

It’s not uncommon in criminal assault cases for those accused to claim they were acting in self-defense. And sometimes, even if those actions were violent, the court will agree with them and deem the actions they took acceptable.

How exactly is self-defense treated in a Colorado criminal case? The truth is that self-defense is not as simple as many television shows and movies may lead you to believe. The prosecution must prove beyond reasonable doubt that the assault occurred to protect oneself.

Here is what you need to know about assault and self-defense in Colorado, including how the courts view self-defense claims and how they can be proven successfully in a court of law.

Assault in Colorado

There are several different degrees of assault in Colorado.

First-Degree Assault

The most serious degree of assault, first-degree assault, is a felony that gets charged in cases where a deadly weapon is used and serious bodily injury occurs by that weapon.

Second-Degree Assault

Much like first-degree assault, second-degree assault includes severe bodily injury and a deadly weapon. Still, it differs because the weapon is not put to use to cause harm. It is also a felony.

Third-Degree Assault

The least serious level of assault, third-degree assault, is a misdemeanor caused when someone recklessly or knowingly causes bodily harm to another person. Bodily injury, in this case, is not serious but an injury that only causes momentary pain.

First and second-degree assault are considered crimes of violence, and the prosecution must show that there was an intent to cause injury to another. One defense often used in these cases is self-defense.

Colorado Springs Stand Your Ground Law

Colorado’s Self-Defense Laws

What is tricky about self-defense in assault cases in Colorado is that it’s an affirmative defense. That means you admit you committed the crime but did so with the legal justification of self-defense. In other words, you operated within the law in your actions.

In the state of Colorado, self-defense laws outline what a person is allowed to do to defend themselves or others. You can use self-defense in these situations:

The Defense of a Person

You can legally protect yourself or someone else from the use of physical force, but you can only use deadly force if you feel that the perpetrator is going to seriously injure you, sexually assault you, or kidnap your – or someone else.

The Defense of Yourself in Your House

The “Make My Day Law” in Colorado allow you to protect yourself within your home, even with deadly force, especially if it seems like the intruder may commit a crime or use physical force against you. However, you can only use deadly force inside your home. If the intruder is outside of your home but still on your property, this law does not apply and does not cover deadly force.

The Defense of Property

Your home is covered by the “Make My Day Law.” This law covers property or premises other than your home. You can use deadly force the same way you protect yourself or another person.

It’s important to understand that, according to the court, you must use self-defense that is considered reasonable. For example, using deadly force to defend yourself when you don’t fear for your own life or the life of another is unreasonable. You can only use deadly force when any reasonable person believes it was required to save a life.

Colorado Springs Criminal Defense

Preliminary Hearings

Self-defense in assault cases can not be used in preliminary hearings. Usually, in serious felony cases, such as crimes of violence, you get a preliminary hearing to determine if enough evidence exists for your case to go forward. In that scenario, you can use affirmative defenses such as self-defense. The only thing in the preliminary hearing that matters is whether or not there is enough probable cause for you to get charged with assault.

It can be frustrating, but trust that your experienced attorney knows how to handle cases like this and your self-defense claim. Make sure, if you get charged with assault in a self-defense situation, you have an attorney by your side who has experience in these cases.


About the Author:

Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.