Being charged with any crime is serious—especially if that crime is menacing. But unfortunately, many people in Colorado don’t even realize that menacing is a crime. Some people even confuse menacing with similar crimes such as harassment or assault. If you are being accused of menacing, it’s important to contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Denver who can help you understand your unique situation and lead the fight for your freedom.

How is Menacing Defined By Colorado Law?

Menacing is defined as the act of knowingly putting someone in fear for their safety by using verbal threats or physical action. This crime is often referred to as battery or making criminal threats in other states, but in Colorado, it is called menacing.

It’s important to note that a person can be charged with menacing even if he never makes physical contact with the victim. Simply threatening to cause bodily injury is enough to face menacing charges.

Is Menacing Charged As A Felony or Misdemeanor in Colorado?

Menacing may not seem like a serious crime since it does not involve acts of physical violence, but these charges should not be taken lightly. Menacing is typically a class 3 misdemeanor. However, it is charged as a class 5 felony under certain circumstances. The crime becomes a class 5 felony if the defendant:

  • Used a deadly weapon, or
  • Used any item that the victim could have reasonably believed was a deadly weapon, or
  • Made the victim believe that he was armed with a deadly weapon, even if he was not.

For example, a man who verbally threatens to hurt someone is committing misdemeanor menacing. But, if this man tells the victim he is armed and going to shoot him, the crime is a felony. In this example, the man could face felony menacing charges even if he is not actually armed since he made the victim believe that he was.

Firearms are not the only type of deadly weapons, though. Many different items are considered deadly weapons, including:

  • Guns
  • Knives or daggers
  • Hammers or other heavy tools
  • Swords
  • Baseball bats
  • Golf clubs

If the item is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death, it is considered a deadly weapon.

What Are the Penalties For Menacing in Colorado?

The penalties for this crime can vary depending on a number of factors, including the nature of the crime and the defendant’s criminal record. But, even first-time offenders could face serious legal consequences.

A misdemeanor menacing conviction could lead to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $750. Felony menacing charges carry far more severe consequences, including between 1-3 years in prison and up to $100,000 in fines.  

There’s no doubt that a menacing conviction can have a negative impact on your future. Luckily, a menacing charge will not always lead to a conviction.

Can A Defendant Accused of Menacing Face Other Criminal Charges?

Defendants who are charged with menacing often face other criminal charges as well. For example, a person who threatens physical violence and then follows through on this threat could face both menacing and assault charges. The menacing charge would cover the threat of physical violence, while the assault charge would cover the physical act of violence.

Menacing is often linked to domestic violence, too. If the victim was the defendant’s spouse, for instance, the crime of menacing could be classified as domestic violence.

Each crime carries its own penalties, so other criminal charges could lead to more severe legal consequences than those outlined above.

What Does It Take to Convict Someone of Menacing?

Prosecutors must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt” in order to convict a defendant of menacing. But, what exactly does this mean?

The law states that. The keyword in this legal definition is “knowingly.” To convict a defendant of menacing, prosecutors must prove that he was aware that what he did would make the victim fearful for his safety.

This does not mean that the prosecutor has to prove that the defendant intended on scaring the victim. Even if this was not the defendant’s intent, if he was aware that he was behaving in a manner that could scare the victim, he acted “knowingly.”  

The prosecution will also need to prove other elements. For example, the prosecution will need to present evidence that the defendant made physical or verbal threats. This is important, but the outcome of a menacing case may depend on whether or not the prosecution is able to present evidence that the defendant acted knowingly.

How Can A Criminal Defense Attorney Defend You Against Menacing Charges?

A criminal defense attorney can use a number of strategies to defend you against menacing charges. But first, your attorney will need to carefully review the details of your case to determine your legal options.

It may be possible for your attorney to negotiate a plea deal on your behalf. If the state’s case against you is strong, this could be the best way to avoid serious penalties.

It’s also possible that your attorney will find that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to charge you. In this case, your attorney may aggressively demand that the prosecution reduce or dismiss your charges altogether.

If this is not an option, a criminal defense attorney could pick apart the prosecution’s case by arguing that your actions or statements were not threats. Your attorney could also argue that you were not aware of the impact your actions or statements would have on the victim. The prosecution cannot convict a defendant who was not aware that he was scaring the victim.

These are some of the many defense strategies that an attorney can use on your behalf. But again, the strategy that is used to defend you will depend on the details of your case.

Don’t put your future in the hands of an inexperienced attorney. If you are facing menacing charges, it’s in your best interest to seek legal representation from skilled criminal defense attorney Daniel M. Murphy. Your future depends on it.

By: Dan Murphy

Denver criminal defense lawyer Daniel M. Murphy provides clients in the Denver area with aggressive and sympathetic legal representation. He graduated from the University of Denver Law School in 1994 and worked as a public defender before starting his own practice in 1996. He has defended clients accused of the most difficult criminal and alcohol-related charges. He also serves as a Moot Court Judge for Denver-area law students who rely on his mentorship.