Understanding Criminal Menacing

Different states have different ways of describing the same offense.  For example, different states refer to DUI’s under a variety of names including DUID, DWUI, or even DWI.  Since different states have different laws, they also have their state-specific ways of naming and defining crimes.  Thus, in Colorado, you may hear the term criminal menacing and be confused as to what it describes.  Simply put, it is Colorado’s choice in verbiage to describe what is often classified as assault in other states.

What Is Menacing?

In Colorado, the term criminal menacing is used in place of assault under some circumstances.  In order to be accused/charged with criminal menacing, you must have threatened another person.  You could also receive this charge if you verbally share your intent to cause harm or bodily injury to another.

Criminal menacing can take one of two forms.  You can verbally threaten someone or physically threaten them with a weapon.  In either instance, the court’s prosecutor will be tasked with providing substantial evidence that you intentionally put a victim in fear of bodily injury or death with your words and/or actions.  Whether the threats are verbal or involve a weapon, this is the cause of all charges of this nature.

Take note that Colorado law still uses the term assault; however, it is used to describe instances where the victim is physically attacked/harmed by a perpetrator.  The defining difference between the Colorado definitions of assault and criminal menacing is that an assault is a physical occurrence, while menacing is limited to threats whether they occur with or without a weapon.

Associated Penalties

Criminal menacing is prosecuted as a class 3 misdemeanor.  If convicted, you will face a host of serious consequences like the possibility of a maximum jail sentence of six months and/or fines ranging between $50 and $750.

What to Do If You’ve Been Charged with Criminal Menacing

A large part of what determines whether an action is considered criminal menacing comes down to your intent.  Maybe you were simply joking around, and your words were misconstrued as a threat.  Maybe the pocketknife you had in your hand seems threatening because you were in a heated argument, yet you were merely using it to open a package.  The perception of others can easily lead to unfair or biased accusations.  Just because you have been accused of criminal menacing does not mean you are guilty.  It is not uncommon for an accuser to be looking for revenge or to have simply taken a comment too seriously.  

Thus, if you have been unfairly blamed for this crime, don’t lose hope.  Your next step should be contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney.  A competent lawyer can develop a strong defense that provides evidence of reasonable doubt in your case.  If your intent cannot be proven, or if it is not reasonable that any person would perceive your actions as threatening under the same circumstances, it is likely you will not be found guilty.

Acquiring a criminal record is embarrassing and follows you around for years to come.  Protect your reputation, personal, and professional life from being drug through the mud.  Allow the experts to fight for you!