When men and women act irresponsibly while driving, and another person is seriously injured, they are charged with Vehicular Assault, C.R.S. 18-3-205. Yet what about the man, woman or teen who is not acting irresponsibly and another person is seriously injured? We all know accidents do happen. Unfortunately, police in the Denver metro area generally charge them the same way. We most frequently see this charge when any type of collision results in injury to another, especially if a child is involved.
A Key Definition of Reckless for this Felony
I regret that police officers don’t exercise more discretion in charging this crime. I see cases where the injury to another person could not have been predicted by the driver, but they are still charged with Vehicular Assault. It seems officers in Jefferson and Adams County want someone to pay the price when a person is injured – no matter how the injury occurred. I am thankful that we have the “reckless” requirement before a person can be convicted in a jury trial. The government must prove the driver was acting recklessly. Here is the key definition for this important word:
Recklessly means that “a person disregards a substantial and unjustifiable risk.”
A second key element which the District Attorney must prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt, is that a person was injured seriously: “Serious” means injury of a life-threatening or permanent nature, like a broken bone, high risk of death or permanent impairment.
Use Your Constitutional Right to Remain Silent
These are just a few of the key definitions used by courts in Douglas County, Arapahoe County, and across Colorado. Without meeting them, the DA will lose his case. It is often a difficult task for the government to prove Reckless without admissions or statements of the person charged. For that reason, we advise that you never speak to the police about what happened. It will take discipline to remain silent, but it could make the difference between going free, or being sentenced to the Colorado Department of Corrections. So, always exercise your constitutional right to remain silent.
Alcohol and Vehicular Assault
If the driver of a car or truck is under the influence of alcohol or another substance, like marijuana or meth, when a person is seriously injured, it is known as a strict liability crime. It becomes a much easier proof issue for the government. This crime is almost always charged when someone is injured by a drunk driver – even a person in the driver’s car. In situations where someone has been charged with Vehicular Assault, they need a criminal defense attorney who is aggressive to prove your innocence.
What is the Sentence for Vehicular Assault?
The level of sentence for Vehicular Assault in Colorado depends largely on whether alcohol or drugs were involved, and the level of injury to the victim. Either a class 4 or class 5 felony can be charged. This can result in up to 6 years in prison and three additional years of parole.
In situations where injury occurs through the operation of a motor vehicle, you should involve a criminal defense lawyer on your side. Keep quiet and make the call to our lawyers at 303-731-0719. Together, we can protect your future.