The Issue of Mandatory Prison for Second Degree Assault - Part III

Several weeks ago, I posted on the issue of mandatory prison sentences for Second Degree Assault, an issue that is currently being addressed in the Colorado state legislature.

Second Degree Assault includes assault on a police officer, fireman or prison guard, as well as assault with a deadly weapon.

Changes to the Law

Originally, any assault on a law enforcement officer resulted in mandatory prison time. The legislature previously agreed to modify the statute so that mandatory sentencing was not applicable to any assault on a law enforcement officer.

However, in my experience, Second Degree Assault can still result in mandatory prison if there is “serious bodily injury”. Unfortunately, not all “serious bodily injury” is so serious. It could be something as minor as a broken toe or a cut on the officer’s arm that causes a small scar. Prosecutors often “stretch” the facts in order to charge a person with Second Degree Assault. This places the defendant in the unenviable position of accepting an unfavorable disposition or facing mandatory prison.

The present proposed amendments to Second Degree Assault will not address assaults on law enforcement officers. They address modifications of Second Degree Assaults on “ordinary” people.

Impact of that Last Post

The Law Office of Barre Sakol is a member of various professional organizations, and a few of them are working to change the mandatory prison sentence for Second Degree Assault cases in certain situations.

While I wasn’t contacted specifically by the group supporting this new amendment, I did receive a request through one of three criminal attorney list-serves I subscribe to for examples of misuse of the Second Degree Assault statute and its mandatory sentencing.

I responded with the story I shared in my last post. Apparently, the group addressing state legislators mentioned a few specific stories but I have no way to know whether or not mine was one of them.

The law is intended to be a living system that continually changes and adapts as the citizens and communities continually change and adapt. This is a good example of why myself, and other defense attorneys, endeavor to stay involved with lawmaking and law-changing; from our vantage point, we have a very distinct view of what’s working in the system and what needs to be addressed.

To read more about Second Degree Assault and our involvement in changing the law, click HERE.

If you are facing Second Degree Assault charges and need legal counsel, call our office at (720) 999-9506 to set up a free consultation.

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