Colorado Violent Crimes Lawyer
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “violent” as using physical force to cause harm or damage to someone or something. So, in one sense, almost any crime in which force is used and harm is intended could be described as a violent crime. But, under Colorado law, only certain crimes are categorized as “crimes of violence,” and the consequences of a conviction can be devastating.
The History of Violent Crime Law in Colorado
In the late 1970s, Colorado tightened the ranges of possible prison sentences for felonies. For example, before 1979, if you were convicted of a class three felony, such as leaving the scene of a car accident that resulted in someone’s death, the judge could sentence you to anywhere between a minimum of 5 years up to a maximum of 40 years. Not surprisingly, this led to extreme variations in sentences depending upon the judge who happened to randomly be assigned a given case. After 1979, a judge sentencing someone convicted of a class three felony could only impose between a minimum of 4 years and a maximum of 8 years. That was only the beginning of two decades worth of changes to the sentencing power held by judges.
Rising crime rates in the 1980s and early 1990s prompted the government to increase possible maximum sentences. Using the same example as before, if a judge in 1989 were sentencing someone convicted of a class three felony, the judge could impose anywhere between 4 and 16 years imprisonment. Then, in the mid-1990s, prison overcrowding caused the government to again cut back possible maximum sentences, but not quite to the levels of the early 1980s. The maximum sentence for a class three felony was reduced to 12 years. But Colorado did not stop at adjusting prison minimums and maximums.
The government also created new categories of crimes, such as “crimes of violence,” “crimes with extraordinary mitigating circumstances,” and others. These categories, if applied to a given crime modify the range of possible prison sentences. Again, using the same example, a person convicted of committing a class three felony, yet under extraordinary mitigating circumstances, faces a 2 year minimum sentence, compared to the ordinary 4 year minimum. By comparison, a person convicted of committing the same class three felony, yet under circumstances rendering it a crime of violence, faces both a lengthier minimum sentence of 8 years and a lengthier maximum sentence of 24 years, instead of the ordinary 12 years.
These crimes, if the government alleges that you (1) used a deadly weapon, (2) possessed and threatened to use a deadly weapon, (3) caused serious bodily injury—meaning the injury involves (a) substantial risk of death, (b) substantial risk of permanent disfigurement, (c) substantial risk of protracted loss or impairment of the function of any body part or organ, or (d) breaks, fractures or burns of the second or third degree—or (4) caused death, will be charged as “crimes of violence”:
Criminal Offenses Defined as Crimes of Violence
Any crime against an at-risk adult or at-risk juvenile. An at-risk adult is someone who is either (a) 70 years old or older or (b) 18 years old or older and has a certain disability. An at-risk juvenile is someone under 18 years old with a certain disability. Those disabilities include: loss of a hand or foot, lost use of a hand or foot, blindness, inability to walk, deafness, muteness, inability to breathe without assistance, or developmental disability. Developmental disability means mental retardation or related conditions, including cerebral palsy, epilepsy, autism, or other neurological conditions when those conditions result in impairment of general intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior similar to that of a person with mental retardation.
Murder. With intent to cause death, or knowingly causing death of another. Class 1 or class 2 felony. First degree assault. With intent to cause serious bodily injury (see above), causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon; with intent to disfigure seriously and permanently, causing such injury; with extreme indifference to human life, knowingly engaging in conduct that creates a grave risk of death and thereby causes serious bodily injury; with intent to cause serious bodily injury on a police officer, firefighter, or judge, threatening the officer, firefighter, or judge with a deadly weapon; or, while in custody, with intent to cause serious bodily injury, threatening a guard/employee with a deadly weapon. Class 3 or class 5 felony, depending upon circumstances.
Second degree assault. With intent to cause bodily injury (see Certain felony sexual offenses resulting in bodily injury below), causing such injury with a deadly weapon; with intent to interfere with a police officer or firefighter, causing bodily injury to anyone; recklessly causing serious bodily injury with a deadly weapon; while in custody, knowingly and violently applying physical force against a police officer, firefighter, judge, or guard; while in custody, with intent to infect, injure, harm, harass, annoy, threaten, alarm a guard/employee, causing them to come into contact with blood, seminal fluid, urine, feces, saliva, mucus, vomit, or any toxic, caustic, or hazardous material; with intent to cause bodily injury, causing serious bodily injury. Class 4 or class 6 felony, depending upon circumstances.
Kidnapping. With intent to force a concession or payment of a ransom, (1) forcibly seizing and carrying a person away, (2) enticing a person to go somewhere, or (3) imprisoning a person; or, knowingly seizing and carrying a person away without lawful justification. Class 1, class 2, class 3, or class 4 felony, depending upon circumstances.
Certain felony sexual offenses. These include:
Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification. (1) Knowingly observing or taking a photograph of another person’s intimate parts without that person’s consent, where the person has a reasonable expectation of privacy and (2) for the purpose of the observer’s sexual gratification. Class 6 felony.
Aggravated sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist. Inflicting sexual penetration or intrusion (1) on a therapist’s own client or (2) on any client by means of therapeutic deception. A client is any person seeking or receiving psychotherapy. Therapeutic deception means telling the client that sexual penetration or intrusion is part of the client’s treatment. Class 4 felony.
Internet sexual exploitation of a child. Inviting or enticing—via internet, phone or text messaging—a person the actor knows or believes is less than 15 years old and at least four years younger than the actor (1) to touch the person’s own or another’s intimate parts while communicating with the actor or (2) to observe the actor’s intimate parts. Class 4 felony.
Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust. An actor knowingly subjecting a non-spouse who is less than 18 years old and at least four years younger (child) to any sexual contact, when the actor is in a position of trust. Sexual contact means (1) knowingly touching the child’s intimate parts, the child touching the actor’s intimate parts, or touching the clothing covering the immediate area of either’s intimate parts and (2) for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse. A position of trust is a parent, guardian, foster care provider, child care provider, family care provider, institutional care provider, or other person responsible for general supervision of a child’s welfare. Class 3 or class 4 felony, depending upon circumstances.
Sexual assault on a child. Same as Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust above, except not by a person in a position of trust. Class 3 or class 4 felony, depending upon circumstances.
Unlawful sexual contact by force, intimidation, or threat. Using force, intimidation, or threat to subject a person to sexual contact (see Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust above) when (1) the actor knows the person does not consent, (2) the actor knows the person is incapable of appraising the nature of the person’s conduct, (3) the actor knows the person is physically helpless and does not consent, (4) the actor drugged the person to cause submission, (5) the actor has supervisory authority over the person detained by police or in a hospital, or (6) the actor treats or examines the person other than for legitimate medical purposes in medically reasonable ways. Class 4 felony.
Unlawful sexual contact—inducement of a child. Knowingly (1) inducing or coercing a child (under 18) either (a) by inflicting consequences designed to achieve submission against the child’s will or (b) knowing the child is incapable of understanding the nature of the child’s conduct to expose intimate parts or to engage in any sexual contact (see Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust above) with someone else and (2) for the actor’s sexual gratification. Class 4 felony.
- Aggravated robbery.
- First degree arson.
- First degree burglary.
- Criminal extortion. With intent to induce a person against his or her will to do or not do something lawful, (1) threatening to confine, restrain, cause economic hardship, cause bodily injury, damage property, or damage the reputation of the person or someone else and (2) the threatened action is unlawful; or, with intent to induce a person against his or her will to give money, threatening to report the person or someone else’s immigration status to authorities. Class 3 or 4 felony, depending upon circumstances.
- First or second degree unlawful termination of pregnancy.
Sexual Offenses Not Requiring Actual Violence
Additionally, the following sex crimes can be charged as “crimes of violence” even though the government does not allege involvement of a deadly weapon, serious bodily injury, or death:
Certain felony sexual offenses resulting in bodily injury. Bodily injury—less extreme than serious bodily injury—means physical pain, illness, or any impairment of physical or mental condition. These are the eligible felony sex crimes:
- Enticement of a child.
- Unlawful sexual contact—alleged victim less than 15 years old.
- Sexual assault on a child.
- Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust.
- Aggravated incest.
- Trafficking in children.
- Sexual exploitation of a child.
- Indecent exposure.
- Soliciting for child prostitution.
- Pandering of a child.
- Keeping a place of child prostitution.
- Pimping of a child.
- Inducement of child prostitution.
- Patronizing a prostituted child.
- Internet luring of a child.
- Internet sexual exploitation of a child.
- Attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation of any crime on this list.
- Certain felony sexual offenses where threat, intimidation, or force was used. The eligible felony sex crimes are the same as those under Certain felony sexual offenses resulting in bodily injury above.
As you can see, the law of violent crime in Colorado is extensive and complex. If you or a loved one have been accused of any of these crimes, it is imperative that you consult an attorney to determine whether, in addition to the severity that comes with any felony charge, you could be facing “enhanced” charges if the government can claim it was a crime of violence. The experience of the attorneys at Hebets & McCallin includes former felony prosecution. Thanks to that expertise, we know what weaknesses to look for in the government’s case and can be there for you every step of the way. We will aggressively work to ensure the best resolution for you. Please call us for a free consultation.