Who is the Initial Aggressor in a Denver Assault Case

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In Colorado, assault cases tend to focus on the person who was the “Initial Aggressor”.   What it means is that you must be the first person to start fighting in order to be found guilty of Assault in Colorado.  If you are not the first person to start fighting, then you are typically considered to be using self-defense (which is not a crime).  As such, determining who the initial aggressor was is an essential part of any assault case.

Of course, if this is an important issue in Colorado law, then it is equally important to figure out what it means.  In other words, what does it mean to be an initial aggressor and where is the line between arguing and being the initial aggressor?

According to the Colorado Court of Appeals, words or insults alone do not make a person an initial aggressor.  This is important so I will say it again, Words or Insults Alone do not make a person an initial aggressor.  see People v. Hines, 11CA1133 (February 13, 2014).

So if you are charged with assault, and you feel that the other person started the fight, it is important to ask yourself whether the other person was merely insulting you or whether there is something else that happened, whether it be a raised fist, or an object that the person was holding, or something other than words that make you believe that the other person crossed the line and became the initial aggressor.  If you can establish facts other than words, you may have an argument that the other person started the fight.  If you cannot establish facts other than words, then, in all likelihood, you will be found to be the initial aggressor.

Definitional issues like this constitute a large portion of the criminal defense process.  As such, it is essential that you talk to a criminal defense attorney if you believe that your case hinges on a definitional issue like the meaning of an “initial aggressor”.  Assault, at all levels, is likely to land you in jail or prison so it is something that must be taken very seriously (even if you think it was just an argument that didn’t really mean anything).  Also, if you are ever found guilty of assault, you face much harsher sentences in the future if you ever pick-up a new case.  You will also be approached more aggressively and forcefully by police, especially if the case involved domestic violence.

If you are facing an assault charge in Colorado, and especially if you are facing a felony, you need to talk to a criminal defense attorney immediately to begin working out the details in your case and to determine whether there are any issues that can make your situation better.

The information in this post is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice or as the creation of an attorney-client relationship. For legal advice, please contact an Attorney.

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Nathaniel has worked in criminal law on both sides of the aisle spending time working for the prosecution as well as the defense. Most recently Nathaniel has represented individuals in violent felonies and drug cases. Prior to this work, Nathaniel handled DWIs, Domestic Violence Cases, Property Crimes, and White Collar Crimes. On the prosecutorial side, Nathaniel has most notably worked in Bosnia helping to prosecute individuals who committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the Bosnian War from 1993-1995. In particular, Nathaniel helped in the prosecution of military leaders who arranged for the organized murders and rapes of innocent civilians in various towns in Bosnia. Nathaniel is a graduate of the University of Texas School of Law, Northwestern University, and Phillips Exeter Academy. Google Profile: Nathaniel Baca