What is the Difference Between Strangulation and Chocking?
Before getting into details about assault by strangulation, it’s essential to understand what it means. Many people mistake strangulation for choking, which creates confusion in understanding the legal nuances involved. Strangulation implies pressure is applied to a person’s airway from the outside, cutting off air supply and preventing oxygen from reaching the brain.
Choking, on the other hand, is a blockage of the airway from the inside, making breathing hard. Accusations of assault by strangulation have become common in domestic abuse cases in Colorado. If you’re facing charges for the offense, consider seeking the legal assistance of criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs to understand everything the case entails.
Types of Strangulation
The law in Colorado distinguishes two types of strangulation:
- Manual: Using one or both hands or forearms or kneeling on the victim’s neck
- Ligature: Involves the use of a band tightened by force, such as ropes, belts, clothing, or bedding
Whichever method is involved, strangulation charges can have severe consequences upon conviction. You risk hefty fines and incarceration. Fighting the charges alone can be complicated, so you need the legal counsel and representation of experienced domestic violence lawyers in Colorado Springs.
Is Strangulation a Misdemeanor or Felony
Colorado changed the second-degree assault law, and what was previously a misdemeanor could now be charged as a felony, even without the appearance of bodily injury. Assault by strangulation can be charged as a first or second-degree crime.
While Colorado doesn’t condone domestic violence, charging strangulation as a felony could make the issue of false domestic violence allegations even worse. If you’re facing charges, you risk a mandatory prison sentence. That’s why you need the expertise of aggressive domestic violence attorneys in Colorado Springs to help you fight the charges.
What Are the Elements of Strangulation?
The following elements constitute the crime of assault by strangulation in the second degree:
- The offender
- On the date and place of the charge, in the state of Colorado
- With the intention to cause bodily harm
- Applied pressure to the neck or blocked the nose to restrict the circulation of blood or the breathing of the alleged victim
- Causing bodily harm
- Against the wishes of the victim
The prosecution bears the burden of proving each element beyond a reasonable doubt. If it fails to prove one or more of these elements, the jury could find you not guilty of the charges. Experienced Colorado Springs domestic violence lawyers can look for loopholes or cast doubt on these elements to water down the prosecutor’s case against you.
Penalties for Second-Degree Assault in Colorado
Second-degree assault crimes are charged as Class 4 felonies and are crimes of violence in most cases. Upon conviction, the crime carries the following penalties:
- Mandatory sentencing of five to 16 years in prison
- A fine of between $2,000 and $500,000
The penalties differ if you can prove heat of passion during the assault:
- Between 12 and 18 months of incarceration
- Fines of between $1,000 and $100,000
Possible Defenses to Assault by Strangulation
A violation of second-degree assault laws as stipulated under CRS 18-3-203(1)(i) is a class 4 felony. The penalties are stiff, and they could curtail your rights and freedom. You don’t have many chances to defend yourself, so you should get it right the first time. You should have aggressive criminal defense attorneys to help you fight.
Possible defenses they can use in trying to have the charges dropped or the penalties reduced include the following:
Lack of Intent to Commit an Assault
Second-degree assault, in most cases, requires that the prosecutor prove intentional conduct. At the very least, they must show that you acted recklessly with a deadly weapon. Your lawyers can defend you by arguing that the victim sustained the injuries through a negligent mistake or accident.
Self-Defense or the Defense of Others
You can justify intentionally hurting another person to defend yourself or another person. Skilled defense attorneys can help you prove this legal defense by providing evidence that shows:
- You believed that the person you assaulted by strangulation was about to use unlawful force against you or another person.
- You applied as much force as you considered necessary to protect yourself or another person from the attacker.
Additionally, your lawyers will use their knowledge and expertise to present those beliefs as reasonable for this defense strategy to work in your favor.
Heat of Passion
Colorado laws allow the use of ‘heat of passion’ as a defense. If used as a compelling defense strategy, it may help reduce a conviction from a Class 4 felony to a Class 6 felony. That is the least severe type of felony in Colorado.
In using heat of passion as your defense, your attorneys will fight to prove that:
- The victim did something that highly provoked you.
- The provocation would have led to an irresistible desire to react in any reasonable person.
- There wasn’t enough time between the time you were provoked and when you caused the injury to allow you to calm down and react differently.
Seek Legal Guidance to Help You Fight Strangulation Charges
Facing charges for assault by strangulation can be stressful because the penalties upon conviction are stiff and could curtain your freedom and future. Defending against strangulation charges can be complex, so you need the help of experienced, aggressive, and knowledgeable legal experts to help you create a solid defense strategy.
The Lux Law Firm has a team of domestic violence attorneys to help you with your criminal charges. We work hard to help our clients defend themselves to protect their rights so that they get another chance to start afresh. We believe your past mistakes should not define your future, and you deserve the best legal representation. Call us at 719-451-7469 to schedule a FREE case strategy.