September 19, 2023
Sex crime consequences are some of the most severe in the Colorado criminal statutes – and for good reason. Sex crimes have long-lasting psychological impacts on survivors, and are a threat to society.
To protect potential victims, convicted sex offenders must register in a national database, something that has a huge negative stigma, and restricts employment prospects, housing, and other freedoms. Additionally, you may have to spend time in prison, pay a costly fine, and more.
Because of this, it is absolutely vital that you put together the strongest possible defense if you are facing sex crime charges. The best way to do this is to work with an experienced Colorado sex crimes attorney with a track record of success in cases like yours.
You particular defense strategy will be based on the specific facts of your case, but there are a number of common arguments that lawyers use against these types of charges:
Most sex crimes consist of a sexual act performed when the victim did not give consent, or was unable to give consent. To satisfy this element, the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the act occurred due to forcible compulsion of some kind, or was committed against a victim who did not have the capacity to consent to the act.
In Colorado, consent is defined as cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will, with knowledge of the nature of the act. Importantly, a current or previous relationship does not constitute consent, nor does submission under the influence of fear. If the victim is incapacitated by intoxication or some other means, profoundly intellectually disabled, or a minor, they are also considered unable to give consent.
To make a case for a consent defense, your attorney will need to poke holes in the prosecution’s assertion that the act in question was committed without the consent of the victim.
Consent is often not as black-and-white as the prosecution would like jurors to believe. In many cases, the defendant may legitimately have believed that the alleged victim consented to the sex acts in question, even if the victim saw things differently.
If it can be proven that a reasonable person could have concluded that the victim was consenting or able to give consent, it may be possible to make a case for mistake-of-fact, in which the defendant mistakenly believed that the accuser was consenting.
Delays in Prosecution of the Case
Sex crimes are sometimes prosecuted long after the alleged offense occurred. The statute of limitations in Colorado is quite long for most sex crimes, as studies have shown that victims may need to recover to some extent before being able to report them – particularly if the victim was very young at the time of the offense. However, if the statute of limitations has expired, the case cannot be prosecuted, even if the delays are due to the prosecution’s decisions.
In Colorado, the following statutes of limitation apply to sex crimes:
- Specified offenses against children: no statute of limitation
- Felony sex offenses: Ten years after commission of the crime, or after a minor victim turns 18
- Misdemeanor sexual assault: Five years after commission of the crime
- Other misdemeanor sex crimes: 18 months after commission of the crime
However, if there is DNA evidence against the defendant and the alleged offense was reported within 10 years of its commission, there is no time limit for commencing prosecution.
In some circumstances, the defendant may be unable to perceive the consequences of his or her actions, so should not be held legally accountable. This is an affirmative defense known as diminished capacity, or insanity.
If the defendant’s mental state at the time of the alleged offense is such that he or she is unable to distinguish right from wrong, he or she should not be held accountable for these actions. For example, if the defendant is in the midst of a psychotic episode and experiencing a break with reality, it is not possible for the defendant to understand the consequences of his or her actions.
However, this defense does not cover moral obliquity (e.g. a sociopath), mental depravity, or passion derived from anger, revenge, hatred, or other motives.
Generally, the defense of voluntary intoxication is not viable for Colorado sex crimes, although it may potentially be a mitigating factor depending on the circumstances. Involuntary intoxication is far less common, but is considered a viable defense, as the defendant may have had impaired judgement due to factors that were out of his or her control. Still, this is a defense strategy that should only be considered in very specific situations.
Facing Colorado Sex Crime Charges?
If you are facing sex crime charges, you must take these grievous allegations very seriously, as a sex crime conviction can be life-changing in many ways. To fight back and have the best chance at beating the charges against you, get in touch with our office as soon as possible.
If you were already convicted and forced become a registered sex offender, it may be possible to remove yourself from the list. Reach out and we can tell you more about how this process works if you are eligible.
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.