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The Gray Area: When Does Aggravated Assault Become Self-Defense in Colorado?

Blogs from May, 2023


When faced with a dangerous situation, your first instinct may be to protect yourself and your loved ones. However, the line between self-defense and aggravated assault can sometimes be unclear in Colorado. It's essential to understand the nuances of these laws to ensure that you're acting within your rights and to avoid potential legal consequences. In this blog post, we'll explore some tips and insights for navigating the complexities of self-defense laws in Colorado, and how a skilled criminal defense attorney can help protect your rights.

1. Understand the Legal Definition of Self-Defense in Colorado

According to Colorado Revised Statutes §18-1-704, a person is justified in using physical force upon another person in order to defend themselves or a third person from what they reasonably believe to be the imminent use of unlawful physical force by that other person. However, the use of deadly physical force is only justified if the person reasonably believes that a lesser degree of force is inadequate, and:

  • The other person is using or reasonably appears about to use physical force against an occupant of a dwelling or business establishment while committing or attempting to commit a burglary;
  • The other person is committing or reasonably appears about to commit kidnapping, robbery, sexual assault, or assault; or
  • The other person is using or reasonably appears about to use unlawful physical force against the person or another person.

2. Be Aware of the "Duty to Retreat" Rule

Colorado is one of the states that follow the "stand your ground" principle, meaning that individuals have no duty to retreat before using force in self-defense. However, this principle does not apply if you instigated the altercation or if you're engaged in criminal activity. It's crucial to understand these limitations to avoid potential legal consequences.

3. Know the Limits of Self-Defense in Colorado

While self-defense is a valid legal defense, it's essential to be aware of its limits. In Colorado, you cannot claim self-defense if:

  • You provoked the other person's use or threatened use of unlawful physical force;
  • You were the initial aggressor, except when the other person's response to your aggression is so sudden and intense that you cannot withdraw from the encounter;
  • You were engaged in criminal activity at the time of the incident; or
  • You used force to resist arrest or prevent an officer from performing their duties.

4. Preserve Evidence and Document the Incident

If you've been involved in a self-defense situation, it's crucial to preserve any evidence and document the incident as soon as possible. This may include taking photographs of any injuries or property damage, obtaining contact information from witnesses, and writing a detailed account of the events that transpired. This documentation can be invaluable in building a strong case and defending your rights in court.

5. Seek Legal Representation from an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

When facing criminal charges related to a self-defense situation, it's essential to have skilled legal representation on your side. At Fife Luneau, P.C., our experienced criminal defense attorneys can help you navigate the complexities of Colorado's self-defense laws and ensure that your rights are protected. We understand the nuances of these cases and will work tirelessly to build a strong defense on your behalf.

If you or a loved one has been charged with aggravated assault or another crime related to a self-defense situation, don't hesitate to contact Fife Luneau, P.C. for a consultation. Our team is dedicated to providing the highest level of legal representation and will work diligently to protect your rights and secure the best possible outcome for your case.

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