Most people in the Denver area expect to go about their lives without feeling threatened or unsafe. However, there are people out there who jeopardize that general feeling of safety, whether they mean to or not. Though threatening someone may seem harmless under most circumstances, Colorado law takes threats very seriously. Read on to learn more about menacing charges, the implications of these charges in the state of Colorado, and next steps you should take if you are facing charges of this nature.
So, what does menacing mean? Menacing occurs when an individual knowingly places another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury. This charge can arise in various situations, from verbal threats to actions that convey a threat of harm. The key element in a menacing charge is the perception of fear by the alleged victim.
Most of the time, menacing is a class 3 misdemeanor; however, the charge may be bumped up to a class 5 felony if an individual threatens someone with a deadly weapon. The mere belief on the part of the victim that a deadly weapon is being or may be used is enough to elicit a felony charge.
The state of Colorado defines the crime of menacing as “any threat or physical action that knowingly places or attempts to place another person in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” Serious bodily injury may include anything from broken bones to injuries resulting in a physical or mental disability. The threat must be imminent, meaning if you merely threaten to harm the other individual in vague futuristic terms, it may not be considered menacing behavior.
Menacing also includes verbal threats and gestures without a physical action or weapon. The risk of violent behavior is treated seriously by judges and prosecutors alike because many behavioral and psychological experts believe that if ignored, this behavior may escalate into an actual act of violence.
To be considered a felony offense, menacing must involve making threats using a deadly weapon. However, the definition of a weapon varies because even everyday objects like a golf club or a baseball bat may be fashioned to resemble a deadly weapon under the right circumstances.
Simply having a weapon present is often enough for a jury to find someone guilty of felony menacing. In some cases, the court may even consider the defendant’s hands a deadly weapon. A few examples include:
Menacing is often the result of road-rage incidents. There have been countless cases involving one driver waving around a handgun either while both vehicles are in motion or stationary in a parking lot because the two drivers involved were engaged in a dispute over the same parking space.
Menacing also commonly includes assault, stalking, or domestic violence charges. For example, if you keep showing up at your ex’s home or place of employment to make threats of physical harm, you could be charged with menacing by stalking.
Class 3 misdemeanor menacing convictions in Colorado typically carry fines ranging from $50 to $750 and possible jail sentencing up to six months, depending on the circumstances and the defendant’s criminal history.
Class 5 felony menacing convictions in Colorado carry a possible sentence of one to three years in the Colorado Department of Corrections and potential fines up to $100,000. Often, the prison sentence will be followed by two years of parole.
Depending on the extenuating circumstances, the court may decide to increase the prison sentence or opt for a probationary sentence instead of prison.
Menacing is a difficult criminal offense to defend under any circumstances. However, self-defense is one of the best defenses against menacing charges in Colorado. If you can prove that your life or the life of another was in imminent danger when you displayed your weapon or made a threat against someone else, you may have the right to plead self-defense.
When it comes to menacing charges, don’t sell yourself short by hiring an inexperienced attorney who is unfamiliar with the state laws governing the subject. You owe it to yourself, as well as your freedom and reputation, to hire a criminal defense attorney with a record of winning similar cases. Mastro, Barnes & Stazzone P.C. represents clients facing both felony and misdemeanor menacing charges in Denver, CO. View our client testimonials to see why you should feel confident consulting our law firm for your menacing case.