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People v. Lee.

2020 CO 81. No. 19SC749. Equal Protection—Second Degree Assault—Deadly Weapon Subsection—Strangulation Subsection.

November 23, 2020


This case required the Supreme Court to determine whether, under prevailing Colorado equal protection principles, a defendant may be charged with second degree assault based on conduct involving strangulation under both the deadly weapon subsection of the second degree assault statute, CRS § 18-3-203(1)(b), and the strangulation subsection of that same statute, CRS § 18–3–203(1)(i).

The Court concluded that, with regard to acts of strangulation, the deadly weapon and strangulation subsections of the second degree assault statute proscribe identical conduct, yet the deadly weapon subsection punishes that conduct more harshly than does the strangulation subsection. Accordingly, under prevailing Colorado equal protection principles, a defendant may not be charged with second degree assault based on conduct involving strangulation under both the deadly weapon and strangulation subsections. Rather, the conduct must be charged under the strangulation subsection.

Accordingly, the Court affirmed the judgment of the division below.

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