I generally have at least two Menacing (C.R.S. 18-3-206) cases going on simultaneously over the last several years. Since this is such a commonly charged criminal offense, I’ve had to stop and ask myself why. It seems there are two reasons which explain why District Attorneys in high population areas like Denver or Douglas County, and in more rural areas like Weld, or Kit Carson County, often charge this crime.
Menacing has a Subjective Element
The first reason is that a couple elements (things a prosecutor must prove) of Menacing are very subjective. The Menacing statute says the perpetrator must “knowingly place a victim in fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” The terms “knowingly” and “fear” can create a problem for prosecutors because both issues have to do with a person’s state of mind. Nobody can read a person’s mind. But, if an alleged victim, whether coached or not, tells an Adams County Sheriff deputy she was in fear of her life, an arrest will usually follow. After a prosecutor is armed with statements like this, they will generally prosecute a case and allow a jury to decide if the act was done “knowingly” by the defendant.
The second reason has to do with a growing public fear over violence, and especially when it is done with a firearm or another kind of deadly weapon. While misdemeanor Menacing does not need to involve a deadly weapon, the more serious felony type does.
Public Perception = Juror Perception
Whether a public fear is rational or irrational is not the issue. High profile cases in Arapahoe, Jefferson, and Park County Colorado have created enough emotion energy to make potential jurors feel like something must be done. Prosecutors build on this fear. Left to their own fears and assumptions, many jurors will convict based on the faulty thinking that a defendant would not be on trial if she did not do something wrong. One of the many challenges I face in voir dire with every case I take to trial, is in helping jurors understand that just because someone is arrested, does not mean he or she is guilty.
At the O’Malley Law Office, P.C. we make prosecutors prove every element of the crime(s) our clients are charged with. We exploit it when they can’t. We are experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys that leave nothing to chance. We take the job of representing you very seriously, and know your future is at stake. So if you are charged with Menacing anywhere in Colorado, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.