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What Does it Mean to Be Charged with Strangulation in Colorado?

By Timothy Bussey on December 5, 2022

What Is Strangulation?

You have been charged with Assault in The Second Degree, involving alleged strangulation. What does that mean? A pertinent statute, subsection 18-3-203 (1)(i), C.R.S., states in part, “A person commits the crime of assault in the second degree if with the intent to cause bodily injury, he or she applies sufficient pressure to impede or restrict the breathing or circulation of the blood of another person by applying such pressure to the neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of the other person and thereby causes bodily injury.”

The strangulation portion of the Second Degree Assault statute was added in 2016, in response to a unique form of physical force that is frequently recurring. The statute punishes what would commonly be thought of as “choking” someone. The actor must have intent to cause bodily injury and must also apply sufficient force to impede or restrict the breathing or circulation of blood by applying pressure to the neck or blocking the nose or mouth and then causing bodily injury. The “bodily injury” threshold is low. The statutory definition has been construed by the courts to include physical pain “however slight.”

Understanding the Alleged Crime

Each case is different. There can be many different types of acts that arguably could fall under C.R.S. 18-3-203(1)(i). Just placing hands on the neck of another is theoretically not enough to prove this offense. There must be sufficient force applied to cause pain and impede or restrict breathing. So, an actor who places their hand or hands on the neck of another has not violated the law unless breathing is impeded, or blood circulation is restricted. Yet facts such as this may invite such a criminal charge, to be resolved ultimately by a jury.

The alleged victim many times will be the sole source of evidence concerning whether breathing is impeded or if blood circulation is restricted. It is not uncommon for law enforcement officers to take an alleged victim to the hospital for a medical evaluation after a strangulation allegation. This is done to allow medical professionals to evaluate and treat the complaining witness, but also to photograph the complaining witness to preserve evidence such as redness, scratches, or bruising which might corroborate the witness’s allegation of strangulation.

Possible Penalties Associated

A violation of C.R.S. 18-3-203(1)(i) is a class four felony. It is important to obtain an experienced law firm to challenge such allegations. Remember, along with the district attorney’s burden to prove elements of the charge, the defense in many cases can often raise “self-defense” as an affirmative defense which the district attorney must then also disprove beyond a reasonable doubt.

Criminal cases are generally resolved just once. You do not have multiple chances to defend yourself. So, it is important to have an experienced advocate on your side to fight these allegations, an advocate who is ready to go to trial when that is the best option. The Bussey Law Firm PC has years of experience challenging serious charges like these. Contact experienced attorneys from The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. at (719) 475-2555 if you have been charged with assault featuring strangulation or other offenses.

Posted in: Violent Crimes


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