Menacing charges in Colorado can lead to felony or misdemeanor convictions depending on the circumstances. This in-depth guide examines menacing laws, penalties, and defense strategies. Read on to learn what constitutes menacing, potential sentences, and how an experienced criminal justice attorney can help.
What is Menacing Under Colorado Law?
Menacing refers to placing or attempting to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury through the use of a threat or physical action. Menacing becomes a class 5 felony if committed through the use of a deadly weapon or article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to believe the item is a deadly weapon.
Menacing is a class 1 misdemeanor if the crime does not involve a deadly weapon. Defendants face increased penalties if previously convicted of menacing or if the victim is a peace officer, firefighter, or medical caregiver.
What Does the Statute Say About Menacing?
Colorado Statute 18-3-206 delineates the offense of menacing. The statute specifies that an individual commits menacing when, through a threat or physical action, they intentionally instill or attempt to instill fear of imminent severe bodily harm in another person. Menacing escalates to a class 5 felony when it involves the utilization of a lethal weapon.
For a menacing conviction, the prosecution must prove:
- The defendant knowingly placed or attempted to place someone in fear of imminent bodily harm.
- This fear was the result of a threat or physical action by the defendant.
- The defendant used a deadly weapon if charged with felony menacing.
What is Considered a Deadly Weapon in Menacing Cases?
Any article used or intended to be used in a manner to cause death or serious injury constitutes a deadly weapon under Colorado menacing laws. This includes firearms, knives, blunt objects, toxic substances, and any other item capable of inflicting harm. Pointing an unloaded gun at someone can still lead to a felony menacing conviction.
Even ordinary objects like pens, rocks or bottles may be considered deadly weapons if used to place someone in fear of imminent serious injury. The object’s latent capability is key, not whether actual harm occurred.
What are the Penalties for Menacing in Colorado?
- Misdemeanor menacing is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by 6-18 months in jail, up to $5,000 in fines, anger management classes, community service, probation, and a criminal record.
- Felony menacing is a class 5 felony carrying 1-3 years in prison, up to $100,000 in fines, community service, probation, anger management, and a felony record.
- Penalties increase for repeat offenders or if the victim was a peace officer, medical caregiver, or firefighter acting in official duties.
- Menacing sentences may include mandatory counseling, firearm relinquishment, and orders of protection for victims.
How Can a Skilled Defense Attorney Fight Menacing Charges?
Although menacing seems straightforward, an experienced criminal defense attorney can identify strategic defenses by examining the specific circumstances of your case. Possible defenses against menacing charges include:
- No “true threat” occurred – Colorado courts have ruled the fear of imminent serious injury must be reasonable. Overreaction to an impulsive statement made without harmful intent may not qualify as menacing.
- Misidentification – Mistaken identity is possible if the alleged victim did not clearly view the perpetrator. Eyewitness misidentification is a common contributor to wrongful convictions.
- Self-defense – Placing someone in fear of harm may be justified to lawfully defend yourself or others from imminent injury or forcible felonies.
- False allegations – Charges arising from custody disputes, landlord conflicts, or other personal vendettas may lack solid supporting evidence.
- Intoxication – Being legally intoxicated can negate the “knowingly” intent requirement for a menacing conviction.
- Mental impairment – Defendants with psychiatric disorders, intellectual disabilities, or serious mental illness may not have possessed knowing intent.
The menacing defense lawyers at Right Law Group in Colorado Springs know how to build a strong case by employing legal defenses and closely scrutinizing each element of the menacing statute.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q: What should I do if I’ve been charged with menacing in Colorado?
If you are facing criminal charges like menacing in Colorado, immediately contact a skilled criminal defense attorney. An experienced lawyer can evaluate the evidence against you and build the strongest defense to contest the criminal charge. Never talk to police or prosecutors without your defense counsel present.
Q: Can I be convicted of menacing if the other person seems overly fearful?
To prove menacing, the fear of harm must be reasonable under the circumstances. If the alleged victim is prone to overreaction, it may not qualify as a “true threat”. A skilled defense attorney can argue the fear was unreasonable and attack the menacing charge on that basis.
Q: Can I be convicted of felony menacing if I didn’t actually use a weapon?
Yes, you can be found guilty of menacing in Colorado, even if no weapon was involved. Under 18-3-206, any object used to place a person in fear of imminent harm may qualify as a “deadly weapon.” Even everyday items like pens or rocks can lead to a felony menacing conviction if considered latent deadly weapons.
Takeaway Points on Menacing Charges in Colorado
Here are some crucial points to remember about felony menacing and menacing laws in Colorado:
- Menacing becomes a class 5 felony if a deadly weapon is involved.
- A person can be charged with felony menacing even if the victim was unaware of the weapon.
- The fear of imminent serious bodily injury is enough to warrant a menacing charge.
- Felony menacing can result in up to three years in prison, or a fine up to $100,000, or both.
- A skilled criminal defense attorney can help build a strategic defense and potentially negotiate the reduction of charges.
If you face misdemeanor or felony menacing allegations, an aggressive defense lawyer can thoroughly evaluate the circumstances and build the strongest case possible. Never hesitate to exercise your rights when facing criminal prosecution.