Sexual Assault: What Does Colorado Consider “Aggravating Factors”?
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Category: Sexual Assault
In December of 2018, Colorado Springs police arrested a 67-year-old man on charges of aggravated sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child under 15 by a person in a position of trust, and other child pornography charges.
These four felony charges encompass a period of more than 10 years. However, police believe that he may have been engaged in sexual abuse for at least 35 years.
The charges stem from an affidavit by a boy who was allegedly sexually assaulted when he spent the night with the man’s grandchildren. The boy’s mother became concerned, and finally the boy’s therapist reported that the boy had been assaulted and shown nude pictures of children and adults on the man’s computer. The affidavit also states that the man did drugs in front of the boy and threatened him.
As police investigated the case, they turned up a 2010 report that said another boy had been sexually assaulted by the man. That boy alleged that the man took nude photos of him and showed him other nude photos of children. However, the man was not arrested after the 2010 report was made.
Police found evidence in the man’s home and on his computer of production of child pornography going back at least 35 years. Since the man lived near a school, a park, and a community center, police are seeking more witnesses and possible victims to be named in further charges.
It’s an absolutely horrible story, with all kinds of alleged behavior that would seem to call for incredibly severe charges and penalties. Buried within those charges, though, is a question: with all of the acts the man is alleged to have committed, what exactly led to one of the charges being “aggravated” while the others weren’t?
Below, we’re going to define sexual assault, cover the specific factors that can lead to aggravated sexual assault charges, and explain the enhanced penalties and charges you can face.
Regardless of whether you are up against sexual assault or aggravated sexual assault charges, it’s not something you want to attempt to deal with on your own. Fight back with a Denver defense attorney’s help.
Sexual Assault Charges in Colorado
Sexual assault is knowingly intruding upon or penetrating a victim in a sexual context. For charges to apply, the defendant must have caused the victim to submit without consent, engaged in the activity under the false premise of medical treatment, or act with knowledge that the victim erroneously believes the defendant to be his or her spouse.
In these cases, the victim may be incapable of understanding the sexual conduct. The victim could be asleep, unconscious, or otherwise unable to consent to the behavior, while the defendant is aware of these facts. Alternatively, the victim may be hospitalized or detained in a jail or prison, where the defendant is in a position of authority over the victim and uses the authority for coercion.
What Makes a Colorado Sexual Assault Charge “Aggravated”?
If your charges involved any of the following aggravating factors, you can expect higher penalties to apply:
- Victim aged 14 or under
- Victim aged 15 or 16 and was at least 10 years younger than the defendant
- Victim experienced serious bodily injury
- Victim was pregnant
- Another person aided the defendant in the crime
- Defendant used or threatened to use a deadly weapon during the crime
- Defendant has a history of violent crime
- Defendant was on parole, probation, bond, or serving time for a felony at the time the crime was committed
Penalties for Aggravated Sexual Assault in Colorado
Penalties depend on the specific acts and details about the victim.
If the defendant had a helper, was armed with a deadly weapon, or if the victim experiences serious physical injury, the charge will be a class 2 felony for aggravated sexual assault. If convicted, the defendant will serve between 16 and 48 years in prison and face a fine between $5,000 and $1,000,000.
A mandatory parole of five years will also be required, and it can be increased if the act is deemed a crime of violence.
If the victim did not consent and was physically disabled, or if the defendant used violence or physical force, a date rape drug to subdue the victim, or threatened the victim in certain ways, he or she will be charged with a class 3 felony for aggravated sexual assault. A conviction will result in an 8 to 24-year prison sentence along with a $3,000 to $750,000 fine and five years of mandatory parole.
As you can see, not only are there quite a few aggravating factors that can increase your charges, the severity of the consequences attached to those charges is quite significant. To have the best chance of fighting back against your charges and receiving a positive outcome, step one is understanding the law.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.