Vehicular assault is a very serious criminal charge in Colorado. It often comes along with a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge that also involves an accident and injury. Anyform of vehicular assault is a felony, and a conviction could cost you years of freedom and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Even the lightest sentence for vehicular assault could have a devastating impact on your life.
If you have been charged with vehicular assault in Colorado, you need a strong defense to fight these charges. Choosing the right lawyer could be the most important decision you make. As a former prosecutor, I know how the criminal justice system works from the inside, which gives me a unique perspective and a leg up as I fight to defend my clients. If you have been accused of vehicular assault, contact me, Christian A. Schwaner, today. I’m ready to stand up for you and fight for your freedom and your livelihood.
What is vehicular assault?
In Colorado, there are two basic types of vehicular assault. Both involve causing severe bodily injury to another person in a car accident. The difference lies in whether or not the defendant is accused of having alcohol or drugs in their system at the time of the accident. Here is how Colorado law defines the two types of vehicular assault:
- Reckless driving:“If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle in a reckless manner, and this conduct is the proximate cause of serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault.”
- DUI:“If a person operates or drives a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or one or more drugs, or a combination of both alcohol and one or more drugs, and this conduct is the proximate cause of a serious bodily injury to another, such person commits vehicular assault. This is a strict liability crime.”
Vehicular assault by reckless driving is a Class 5 Felony. Vehicular assault under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a Class 4 Felony, which carries harsher penalties. Remember that even though recreational marijuana is now legal under Colorado law, it is still illegal to drive under the influence of marijuana. Driving under the influence of marijuana can still result in DUI vehicular assault charges.
Whichever type of vehicular assault you have been charged with, you need to start building a strong defense as soon as possible. Do not hesitate to reach out to me as soon as you are able to if you’ve been arrested and charged with vehicular assault. As an experienced Colorado Springs vehicular assault defense attorney, I can help you understand the charges against you and get started on your defense.
What is reckless driving?
Part of building a strong defense against criminal charges is understanding what you’ve been accused of and proving that your actions did not match the crime. While the DUI version of vehicular assault may seem straightforward, the reckless driving version demands a little more explanation. The way the word ‘reckless’ is used in legal terminology is not the same way that you might use it in conversation. In legal terms, recklessness is defined as doing something that you know or should know has a high likelihood of causing harm to other people. It doesn’t mean that you intentionally hurt someone, but it also doesn’t just mean that you were negligent. An example of reckless driving that does not involve drugs or alcohol may include driving at an extremely high speed, such as 120 miles per hour, or cutting into a lane of oncoming traffic to pass the car in front of you.
DUI vehicular assault is a strict liability crime
Another term that may need some extra explanation is ‘strict liability crime.’ This means that no matter what your intention was, if you did it, you are liable. Charges for some crimes require prosecutors to prove that you meant to do what you were accused of doing. This is not so for DUI vehicular assault. It doesn’t matter if you were being extremely careful, or even if the other driver was 50 percent or more at fault for the accident. If prosecutors can prove that you had drugs or alcohol in your system, you could be found guilty of vehicular assault and you will be liable for injuries resulting from the accident.
Penalties for vehicular assault in Colorado
The penalties for both types of vehicular assault in Colorado are not to be taken lightly. Remember, these are felony charges. A conviction on either type could completely disrupt your life and finances. Here are the penalties you could suffer if convicted of vehicular assault:
- Vehicular assault (reckless driving): 1-3 years in prison and a fine of $1,000 to $100,000
- Vehicular assault (DUI): 2-6 years in prison and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000
These penalties are high enough in and of themselves to ruin your life in the short term, but the long-term effects on your life if you are convicted could be devastating as well. Even if you serve out your entire prison sentence, this felony will stay on your criminal record, which could hurt your employment chances in the future. It may also be nearly impossible to recover from the financial blow of paying a $500,000 fine. On top of all of this, you may be facing DUI charges as well, which come with their own penalties. If you have been accused of vehicular assault, you need to get in touch with an experienced defense attorney now.
Vehicular assault is a “victim’s rights” crime
Under Colorado law, vehicular assault is a “victim’s rights” crime, which means that the prosecutor must seek the input of the victim when offering a plea bargain or sentencing stipulation to the defendant. This means that negotiating a fair disposition of the case can be further complicated by an angry victim and their family members. This means that it is imperative that you hire an experienced attorney who has handled these sensitive cases in the past and has successfully negotiated on behalf of their clients to get the best possible outcome.
Contact Christian A. Schwaner, P.C. today
If you have been charged with vehicular assault in Colorado, there is no time to waste. The faster you get started, the better chance you have of being found innocent or at least receiving a lighter sentence. As an experienced Colorado Springs vehicular assault defense attorney, I have the experience to give you a fighting chance. As a former prosecutor, I know the tricks the prosecution will use to try to convict you and put you away. Don’t wait until it is too late to get the help you need. If you have been accused of vehicular assault, contact me online or call me now at (719) 577-9700.