Strangulation in Colorado Domestic Violence Cases
Colorado became the 48th state to pass a law making “strangulation” its own separate criminal offense. Under this new law, strangulation is defined as knowingly preventing someone from breathing by applying pressure to their throat or neck, or by blocking their nose or mouth.
In Colorado, there are two types of strangulation: manual and ligature.
What is Manual Strangulation?
Manual strangulation is when someone uses their hands or forearms to apply pressure to another person’s throat or neck to restrict their airflow. This can be done with one hand or two hands. It can also be done by kneeling on the person’s neck. Manual strangulation can be charged as a felony or a misdemeanor in Colorado, depending on the circumstances of the case.
What is Ligature Strangulation?
Ligature strangulation occurs when a band is tightened around someone’s neck using force to restrict their airflow. This can be done with belts, cords, ropes, clothing, or bedding.
Strangulation Can Be Charged as First-Degree or Second-Degree Assault
In Colorado, strangulation can be charged as either a first-degree assault or second-degree assault. First-degree assault is defined as knowingly or recklessly causing serious bodily injury to another person with a deadly weapon. Serious bodily injury is defined as mutilation, amputation of a limb or disfigurement. First-degree assault requires that the act was done with the intent to cause serious bodily harm.
Second-degree assault is defined as knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon or any other means or instrument which could cause serious bodily injury.
The key word here is “bodily injury.” Serious bodily injury is not required. This can include things like cuts, bruises, or other minor injuries.
First-Degree Assault Penalties for Strangulation in Colorado
In Colorado, first-degree assault is a class 3 felony. The penalties for a class 3 felony include 4-12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Second-Degree Assault Penalties for Strangulation in Colorado
In Colorado, second-degree assault is a class 4 felony. The penalties for a class 4 felony include 2-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
Defenses Against Strangulation Charges
If you’ve been charged with domestic violence strangulation, it’s normal to be feeling scared and alone. It’s important to remember that you have rights and there are defenses available to you. Some of the most common defenses include the following:
One possible defense to a strangulation charge is self-defense. If you can show that you were attacked first and that you only used the amount of force necessary to defend yourself, then you may be able to get the charges against you dropped or you could be acquitted at trial.
Injuries Were Accidental
Another possible defense is that any injuries sustained by the victim were accidental. For example, if you and the victim were engaged in consensual horseplay and an accidental action caused bruises on the victim’s neck, you would not be guilty of strangulation.
Unfortunately, false allegations of domestic violence strangulation are not uncommon. People may falsely accuse someone of strangulation for revenge, attention, or because they’re trying to get an edge in a custody battle.
An experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense attorney can help you navigate the legal system and ensure that your rights are protected every step of the way. If you have been accused of strangulation, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.