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.
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.