When Does “Bodily Injury” Become “Serious Bodily Injury”?
In Colorado, there is a substantial difference between the terms “bodily injury” and “serious bodily injury.” Bodily injury refers to minor injuries, such as cuts and bruises. Serious bodily injury refers to injuries that are so severe they pose a risk of death. If you are facing violent crime charges, understanding the differences between these terms is crucial, given that one could lead to more severe penalties than the other.
Defining Bodily Injury and Serious Bodily Injury
Generally, bodily injury does not carry as much weight as serious bodily injury does in a criminal case. If serious bodily injury was inflicted, it could have a major impact on the degree of a charge. For example, serious bodily injury could enhance the criminal charge in a domestic violence case, resulting in more prison time and higher fines. Examples of serious bodily injuries include:
- Permanent disfigurement
- Prolonged impairment of any body part or bodily function
- Broken bones and fractures
- Severe burns
- Lacerations that require stitches
- Bullet wounds
- Injuries that are prone to infection
- Injuries that require surgery
Bodily injuries include scratches, bruises, cuts, and any physical pain.
Legal Distinctions and Consequences
Whether your actions resulted in bodily injury or serious bodily injury will dictate the severity of your charges. For example, you could be charged with third-degree assault if you caused bodily injury, regardless of if it was knowingly or recklessly. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor that carries a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and up to $1,000 in fines if you are convicted.
Charges that involve serious bodily injury are more severe. In Colorado, the most severe assault crime is first-degree assault, which is a felony. You could be charged with this crime if you caused serious bodily injury to a person through the use of a deadly weapon or strangulation. You could also be charged with first-degree assault if you intended to cause serious bodily injury, even if you did not inflict any actual injuries. If convicted, you could be sentenced to a minimum of 10 years in prison.
Criminal Offenses and Enhanced Charges
In Colorado, domestic violence is not an independent crime. Instead, it is considered a sentencing enhancer and increases the penalties for offenses committed against former or current spouses and partners. That means if causing bodily injury or serious bodily injury is a factor in your case, the charges you face could be even more severe.
Vehicular assault is another violent crime that packs severe penalties in Colorado. For example, if you drove recklessly and caused serious bodily injury to another individual, it could be treated as a Class 5 felony. If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol, it could become a Class 4 felony. Keep in mind that felony offenses are permanent, which means they could have a substantial impact on your life forever.
Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyer in Colorado Springs
The impact a violent crime conviction could have on your life could be devastating. Not only could you spend years of your life in prison and owe a steep fine, but your record may be permanently tarnished.
At The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., our experienced criminal defense team in Colorado Springs is dedicated to providing exceptional legal counsel and fierce representation. We understand the challenges you are facing and are committed to developing the strongest defense strategy. Reach out to us at (719) 475-2555 to schedule a free initial case evaluation and learn how you can start protecting your future.