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Defending You | Protecting Your Future

Good people make mistakes, and innocent people are often wrongly accused of crimes. Too often, though, merely being charged can turn someone’s life upside down—jobs are lost, or families divided, even in minor cases. Whether fighting to establish your innocence, to keep you out of jail, or to obtain a plea bargain that allows you to keep your job, Matthew Hand is committed to defending you and protecting your future.

Assault Expertise

Assault Cases

Matthew Hand has handled hundreds of state and municipal assault cases in and around Denver, including case analysis, investigation, litigation of constitutional claims, plea negotiation, sentencing mitigation and, of course, trial. Matthew Hand has tried approximately 40 jury trials, more than a third of which have been on felony, misdemeanor, or municipal assault charges.

Assault Defense Training

Matthew Hand has received both prosecution and defense-focused training critical for assault cases, on topics such as litigation of self-defense claims, 5th amendment litigation, collateral employment consequences, impeachment evidence, working with medical and other experts, and advanced cross-examination.

Assault: Recent Successes

Every case is different. The results below came from hard work and skill applied to situations with feasible legal or factual defenses. They are not intended to suggest what result you will obtain in your case.

People v. John Doe 2014 (Jefferson County)

Case dismissed after thorough investigation demonstrated valid self-defense claim to assault charges.

People v. John Doe 2013 (A front range County)

All charges (assault and criminal mischief) dismissed after extensive investigation exposed deception by the alleged victim and a strong case for self-defense. The alleged victim was later convicted of false reporting.

People v. John Doe 2013 (Denver County)

Case dismissed after arrest on suspicion of felony assault. The Law Office was retained immediately after arrest and conducted an investigation that showed self-defense by the client and credibility problems of the alleged victim. Presentation to the detective and district attorney helped convince them the case was not provable, and no charges were filed.

People v. John Doe 2014 (Englewood Municipal)

All charges (assault and more) dismissed after investigation and thorough presentation of defense theory of case to prosecution, which demonstrated the likelihood that client was using self-defense in the incident.

Why People Choose Us

Former Prosecutor

As a former deputy district attorney, Matthew Hand has prosecuted everything from traffic crimes to serious felonies, personally handling hundreds of DUI and domestic violence cases. Mr. Hand has also received specialized state training, from DNA analysis to accident reconstruction. We know how to find the weakness in the government’s case, and how to use that weakness to obtain better results for you.

Legal Skill

Matthew Hand graduated with honors from top-ranked NYU Law, and has appellate as well as trial experience. Even seemingly simple charges— assault or drug possession— can involve complex questions of constitutional rights. We can take charge of your defense, no matter how complex.

Trial Talent and Experience

There is a huge gap between the best and worst trial lawyers, and most lawyers hardly ever go to trial. Matthew Hand has won the majority of dozens of jury trials, from petty drug offenses to attempted 1st degree murder. This matters, even if you want to avoid trial and take a plea offer: the district attorney is much more likely to negotiate a favorable plea bargain with a lawyer who is a threat to win the trial. And if you do choose to go to trial? There is no substitute for a talented, experienced, and aggressive trial lawyer on your side.

Personal Commitment

Your defense is only as good as the quality and commitment of the attorney who stands beside you in court. When you hire us, Matthew Hand is your attorney for every critical stage of your case– you will not be handed off to an inexperienced associate. Matthew Hand is personally committed to seeking the best possible result for you, to leaving no stone unturned in your defense, and to making this difficult time easier for you.

Denver Assault Lawyer

Defense of assault charges

In Colorado, if you’ve been charged with assault, you need a skilled criminal defense lawyer. There is a big difference between first, second, and third degree assaults, but even third degree assault is a serious charge, punishable by up to 2 years in jail. Moreover, an assault charge can be difficult for the DA to prove when you are defended well. A good criminal defense lawyer will often be able to show, for example, that you acted in self-defense, that you did not cause the alleged injury, that the witnesses could not have seen what they thought they saw, or that the victim had a motive to lie about what happened. Further, each degree of assault requires proof of a specific mental state, and a good defense lawyer can make it very difficult for the DA to prove you had the guilty mental state required by law.

Of course, every case is different, but you get the best results when you hire a skilled trial lawyer, not someone who just dabbles in criminal defense. Matthew Hand has extensive trial experience in cases involving violent crime, and can defend you from any assault charges, in any court in Colorado.

Third Degree Assault | 18-3-204

Third degree assault is the least serious of the assault charges, but it is the most commonly charged. It is a common charge in domestic violence cases and minor or moderate fights. It is a class 1 misdemeanor, but because it is deemed an extraordinary risk crime, it is punishable by up to 2 years in jail. There is no mandatory minimum sentence unless certain aggravating factors exist, such as a pregnant victim.

According to Colorado law, a person commits third degree assault if the person knowingly or recklessly causes bodily injury to another person.

You can see that third degree assault does not require a specific intent to harm somebody– it can be as little as reckless behavior that results in an injury to another. And it is important to note that “bodily injury” is defined to include as little as “pain”, which is a very low threshold for the district attorney to prove. Therefore, when you’re charged with third degree assault, your defense is usually one of the following: 1) that you never even touched the alleged victim, 2) that the bodily injury was caused negligently (not recklessly or knowingly), or 3) that you were justified in using force (self defense or defense of others, usually). There are other less common defenses that your lawyer can talk to you about.

A Denver criminal defense lawyer with trial experience gives you the best chance of dismissal, acquittal at trial, or a favorable plea bargain. The reality is that even if you want to take a plea bargain, an experienced trial lawyer will be able to drive a harder bargain with the DA, because the DA knows that there is a greater chance there would be an acquittal if he didn’t make a fair plea offer. Read more about why people choose Denver lawyer Matthew Hand, or call the Law Office of Matthew Hand for a free consultation at (303) 900-8480.

Second Degree Assault | 18-3-203

Second degree assault is a felony and a so-called crime of violence, which increases the penalties. As commonly charged, it is a class 4 felony punishable by 5 to 16 years in prison. There a variety of ways to commit a second degree assault, but the most common is when a person intends to cause bodily injury, and in fact causes serious bodily injury to another person. Unlike third degree assault, the DA must prove an intent to cause bodily injury, and the injury must be serious—the law defines “serious bodily injury” to include things such as a substantial risk of death, a broken bone, any disfigurement, or any lasting impairment to a body function.

Here are all the ways a person commits second degree assault:

  1. With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he causes serious bodily injury
  2. With intent to cause bodily injury to another person, he causes such injury by means of a deadly weapon
  3. With intent to prevent a peace officer or firefighter from performing a lawful duty, he or she intentionally causes bodily injury to any person
  4. He recklessly causes serious bodily injury to another person by means of a deadly weapon
  5. He drugs another without that person’s consent (note, this is not considered crime of violence, and so there is not a mandatory minimum of 5 years).
  6. He uses force on a judge, or force or body fluids on certain employees of detention facilities.

See Colorado Revised Statutes 18-3-203 for exact language. Note that the statute provides that a second degree assault while committing (or fleeing after the commission of) certain other serious crimes turns the assault into a class 3 felony, instead of class 4.

Self-defense, defense of others, and other common defenses are available for second degree assault. A unique opportunity for mitigation is available in second degree assault cases: the crime is only a class 6 felony if it was committed in the “heat of passion.” Heat of passion may exist, for example, if you walked in on your spouse in bed with another, and acted before you had a chance to calm down. If you’ve been charged with any felony, you need a defense lawyer with trial experience. But second degree assault cases, which frequently turn on these contested issues of self defense and heat of passion, uniquely call for a good trial lawyer—someone who attacks the government’s evidence and persuasively tells your story.

First degree assault | 18-3-202

First degree assault is a serious felony and usually a so-called crime of violence, which provides for enhanced prison sentences upon conviction. It is a class 3 felony with a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison and up to 32 years. It is only a class 5 felony if committed in the heat of passion, much like second degree assault.

Here are the ways that a person commits the crime of first degree assault:

  1. With intent to cause serious bodily injury, he causes such injury using a deadly weapon
  2. With intent to permanently disfigure or amputate a person, he does so
  3. While showing extreme indifference to human life, he knowingly engages in conduct that creates a grave risk of death to another and in the process causes serious bodily injury to that person
  4. With intent to cause serious bodily injury, he uses a deadly weapon to threaten a police officer, fire fighter, judge, or prison worker

See Colorado Revised Statutes 18-3-202 for exact language.

As with second degree assault, claims of self-defense are often central to your defense. At trial, a good criminal defense lawyer will also be able to call into question whether you had the guilty mental state required by law– that is, what was your intent in the incident? Of course, on the right facts, numerous other possible defenses can come up, such as alibi, mistaken identity, defense of others, duress, and more. Contact a Denver criminal defense lawyer today.

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