Understanding Sexual Assault Laws in Colorado
Posted By: Jacob Martinez
Sexual assault is a serious crime – both here in Colorado and throughout the United States. It’s so bad that we usually can’t go a week without hearing about a sexual assault case on the news.
For example, there was a recent story out of Colorado Springs regarding a 34-year-old man sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy in his care. Raymond Demon Brown was arrested in February on those allegations. That would be bad enough, but during the police investigation, seven additional victims were identified, with alleged abuse dating back to 2009.
Although the legal system in the United States operates under the presumption that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty, people often have pre-formed opinions when it comes to sexual assault cases or other sex crimes.
This is unfair to the defendant, and is yet another reason why it’s so important that a jury has all the necessary facts related to the case and a clear understanding of what a sexual assault charge really means in the eyes of the law. Only then can they properly and fairly decide on a verdict.
If you are charged with this type of crime, it becomes the responsibility of you and your attorney to educate the jury – but this means you have to understand the law first.
What Is Colorado Sexual Assault?
Under Colorado law, someone commits sexual assault if they knowingly sexually penetrate someone (vaginal, oral, or anal sex) or sexually intrude (inserting an object or part of a person’s body in a genital or anal opening for sexual gratification or abuse) without consent.
It is sexual assault if the defendant:
- Forces the victim to submit against his or her will
- Knows the victim is unable to fully understand the nature of the act
- Knows that the victim submits mistakenly only because he or she believes the defendant to be their spouse
- While claiming to offer a medical service, engages in treatment or examination of a victim for anything other than a bona fide medical purpose or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices
It is also sexual assault if the victim is:
- Less than 15 years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim
- At least 15 years of age, but less than 17 years of age, and the actor is at least 10 years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim
- In custody of law or detained in a hospital or other institution and the actor has authority over the victim and uses the position of authority to force the victim to submit, unless the act is incident to a lawful search
- Physically helpless and the defendant knows the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented
In most cases, sexual assault is a class 4 felony. Class 4 felonies are punishable by two to six years in jail and a fine of $2,000 to $500,000.
Depending on the circumstances, however, someone could face a different charge.
Sexual assault is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by 6-18 months in jail, if the victim is 15-16 years of age and the defendant is at least 10 years older than the victim and they aren’t married.
Sexual assault is a class 3 felony, punishable by 4-12 years in jail, if the victim was physically helpless or if the defendant:
- Used physical force or violence
- Threatened death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on anyone
- Threatened to retaliate in the future
- Impaired the victim’s control with drugs or another intoxicant
If you have been accused of sexual assault, it’s important to consult with an experienced Colorado sexual assault attorney to determine what the best defense is to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed.
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.