What Does Criminal “Menacing” Mean?

You may have seen the terms DWUI, DUID, DWI, and DUI before and wondered exactly what the differences are between them. All of these terms actually refer to charges of driving under the influence of something such as alcohol or drugs, but each of these acronyms are seen representing the same offenses across different states.

This example of diversification comes from the fact that every state has a specific set of laws and specific vocabulary used to explain those laws, which is also why Colorado has what it calls “menacing” charges.

Criminal Menacing Charges in Colorado

A serious charge that calls for the help of a lawyer. “Menacing” is the legal term used in Colorado for offenses other states may describe as “assault.” In Colorado, a prosecutor can charge a person with criminal menacing when that person has expressed the intention of or threatened to inflict pain or harm on another person.

As with charges of assault in other states, menacing can be committed with words or a weapon. Keep in mind that something you may not consider a weapon normally —such as a hammer— can be held as a weapon legally depending on how it was used or presented in the incident. Even if you never intended for any sort of object in your hand to be used as a weapon during the incident, the prosecutor will try to prove that you did, how the victim felt, and other testimony and evidence.

In a menacing case, the prosecutor only has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person charged knowingly put someone else in real fear of injury, even if the person charged never actually laid a hand on the victim. Words do and can count as much as actions, which is why you should never attempt to explain your intentions or what happened to a law enforcement officer without your attorney present at the time.

Fines and Penalties

Under state law, criminal menacing is charged as a Class 3 misdemeanor. A person convicted of this charge may face a maximum of six months in jail and a fine of between $50 and $750.

Needless to say, any jail time can cause a serious disruption in your work and personal lives, so if you have been charged with menacing, it’s important that you take the steps necessary to protect your rights, including seeking experienced legal help.

Unfortunately, even a simple misunderstanding can lead to a menacing charge in some situations, especially if the relationship between the accused and the alleged victim is strained. If you or someone you care about has been accused of this crime, it’s wise to contact a criminal lawyer for assistance with your case. While you may be pressured by the prosecutor into pleading guilty and settling your case right away, you should never agree to do so without having an attorney review the case and receiving a full explanation of the penalties involved first.

Thanks to the Law Office of Richard J. Banta, P.C. for their insight into what criminal menacing is.