Colorado Sex Crimes

small picture of attorney bill henry
By: Bill Henry
PublishedOct 18, 2021
9 minute read

Sex crimes convictions carry life-altering consequences. From prison time and sex offender registration to personal and professional repercussions, a sex crime conviction can follow you for life. If you’re charged with a sex crime it is imperative that you seek legal representation. A sex crimes criminal defense attorney knows the law, will protect your rights, and build a strong defense to achieve the best possible result for you.

Contact a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

If you face charges for sex crimes, schedule a meeting with one of our criminal defense attorneys. Our Criminal Defense Team is comprised of accomplished attorneys who are former prosecutors and public defenders. Our defense attorneys know Colorado criminal law, they’re effective negotiators, and they’re strategic in the courtroom.

Call 303-688-0944 to set up a case assessment or click here to schedule the meeting online. Do not wait. Your livelihood, reputation, and future depend on a strong defense against sex crimes charges.

sex crimes

This article covers the following sex crimes:

Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?
Defenses for Sexual Assault
What are the Penalties for Sexual Assault?

Child Enticement

What is Child Enticement?
Defenses for Child Enticement
What are the Penalties for Child Enticement?

Statutory Rape

What is Statutory Rape?
The Romeo and Juliet Exception
Defenses for Statutory Rape
What are the Penalties for Statutory Rape?

Important Note About Penalties:

This article discusses penalties for various Colorado sex crimes. It is incredibly important to note that aggravating factors can significantly affect your potential sentence. The penalty ranges listed below are the basics. You must speak with a criminal defense attorney to receive a more accurate picture of what kind of sentence you could face based on the facts of your case.

Sexual Assault

What is Sexual Assault?

You commit sexual assault when you knowingly inflict sexual intrusion or penetration on a victim. Forcing someone to submit to you against their will or engaging in a sexual act with an inebriated person are both examples of sexual assault.

Possible Defenses for Your Case

Your sex crimes defense attorney will gather information to develop a strong defense for you. They will thoroughly prepare you for trial if your case proceeds in that direction.

Listed below are some of the possible defenses if you are charged with sexual assault:

Unfounded Allegations & Consent
About Consent in Colorado
Your Personal Life
Your Alibi
Mistaken Identity
Challenge Forensic Evidence
Suppress Evidence that Violates the Law

Unfounded Allegations & Consent

Unfortunately, false rape allegations do happen, and they can have a lasting, negative effect on your life.

Take the case of Gregory Counts. Mr. Counts was exonerated of a rape he did not commit after serving 26 years in prison for it. The woman who accused Mr. Counts of participating in a gang rape later admitted the attack never occurred and, instead, was concocted by her boyfriend.

There are few studies about the prevalence of false rape allegations, but a quick internet search reveals case after case of people who serve time for a sexual assault they did not commit. A 2010 study by the National Institutes of Health indicates somewhere between 2 and 10 percent of sexual assault allegations are false.

Nevertheless, statistics are the last thing on your mind when you are on the receiving end of a false rape allegation. Your life and livelihood are at the forefront of your mind and ours, too.

About Consent in Colorado

If you are falsely accused or your accuser consented to have sex with you, your sexual assault defense attorney will present any evidence, perhaps text messages or emails, to exonerate you.

In Colorado, “consent means cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will and with knowledge of the nature of the act.” C.R.S.A. § 18-3-401(1.5)

Now, having a relationship with someone does not automatically allow you a consent defense. C.R.S.A. § 18-3-401(1.5)

A consent defense is not available for sex crimes involving children, incapacitated individuals, or mentally disabled people.

Your Personal Life

We’ll examine every aspect of what is going on in your life. For example, were there any significant family-related matters going on at the time of the alleged assault? Are you going through a bitter divorce and your spouse is seeking revenge? Have you had an affair that may have prompted someone to try to extort money from you?

These types of issues can motivate a false accusation.

Your Alibi

Your whereabouts during the alleged assault could be an effective defense.

For instance, were you out of town when your accuser says you assaulted them? Were you with multiple people at the time of the alleged attack?

If so, your sexual assault defense attorney will gather all evidence to corroborate your innocence, such as digital receipts and witnesses.

Mistaken Identity

All too often a sexual assault victim mistakenly accuses the wrong person of the attack.

Consider this scenario:

Jane attends a large party where someone slips an intoxicating drug into her drink. You were at the same party and chatted with Jane that evening. The perpetrator who slipped Jane the drug later assaulted her, but Jane remembers the conversation she had with you and mistakenly believes you attacked her.

Your sexual assault defense attorney will use DNA evidence to prove your innocence in a case of mistaken identity.

Challenge Forensic Evidence

As mentioned, DNA evidence can exonerate an innocent individual. However, there are times when DNA evidence should be challenged.

For instance, improper collection or storage of DNA evidence can effectively taint the sample. So, when necessary, we will turn to our own forensic experts to examine evidence such as DNA samples and even digital records.

Your defense team will object to improperly stored or damaged evidence when necessary.

Suppress Evidence that Violates the Law

As a defendant, you have the right to review and challenge the evidence in your case.

Your sexual assault defense attorney will review all the evidence collected in your case to determine which evidence they believe the court should suppress.

For instance, the court should reject evidence gathered during a warrantless search.

What are the Penalties for Sexual Assault?

Up to Life in Prison

In Colorado, sexual assault charges range from class 2 felonies to class 1 misdemeanors.

If you are convicted of a class 2 felony sexual assault you will receive an indeterminate sentence. That means you may never be released from prison.

Additionally, receiving an indeterminate sentence means there’s no early release. The law requires you to serve at least to the midpoint of the presumptive sentencing range before you can be considered for parole. C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401(8)(e)

Depending on your charge, you could receive anywhere from six months in county jail to life in prison. Click here to read our Sexual Assault Legal Guide.

Crimes of Violence

Some sexual assaults will be charged as crimes of violence. If a victim is injured, threatened, or intimidated during the attack, or if force is used against them, the state considers this a violent crime.

Violent crimes present an extraordinary risk to society, and state law requires the court to increase a defendant’s sentence when they’re convicted of a crime of violence. This can tack on years to your sentence.

Sex Offender Registration & Probation

You will have to register as a sex offender for the rest of your life if you receive an indeterminate sentence for a felony sexual assault charge. Furthermore, even if you are eligible to be removed from the sex offender registration list, you must receive the court’s permission to no longer register.

10 – 20 Years of Probation

Individuals who are paroled following a class 2 or class 3 felony sexual assault conviction should expect to be on probation for at least 20 years. However, the probationary period could be for life.

Class 4 felony sexual assault requires at least 10 years of probation. When the probationary period ends, the court schedules a hearing to decide whether the individual’s probation should end. The court will consider the probation officer’s and treatment provider’s recommendations to determine if the offender can live within the community without treatment and supervision.

If the court decides it is in the best interest of the community for the individual to stay on probation, this decision will be reviewed every three years. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-1008(3)(b)

Child Enticement

What is Child Enticement?

Enticement of a child involves inviting someone younger than 15 to go somewhere with you for sexual contact. Examples of child enticement include persuading a minor to get into a car, meet at a hotel room, or go to a secluded park with the intent to have sex or some other type of sexual contact.

The young person does not have to understand the intentions of your invitation for you to be charged with enticement of a child.

Sting Operations & Entrapment Defense

Law enforcement agencies know various online forums can harbor individuals looking to exploit teens and tweens. Police hold sting operations to expose individuals eager to commit sexual offenses, like child enticement.

These sting operations, however, must follow certain guidelines so as not to entrap individuals.

Colorado law says entrapment occurs when police induce an otherwise law-abiding citizen to commit a crime. In other words, a law enforcement officer persuades or leads an individual to commit a crime.

If you would not have committed the crime if not for the police, you may have been entrapped.

Here’s exactly what the law says:

The commission of acts which would otherwise constitute an offense is not criminal if the defendant engaged in the proscribed conduct because he was induced to do so by a law enforcement official or other person acting under his direction, seeking to obtain evidence for the purpose of prosecution, and the methods used to obtain that evidence were such as to create a substantial risk that the acts would be committed by a person who, but for such inducement, would not have conceived of or engaged in conduct of the sort induced. C.R.S. § 18-1-709

Now, just giving someone an opportunity to commit a crime is not entrapment. There is the expectation that a person will reject the temptation to commit an unlawful act.

So when would the entrapment defense be viable in a child entrapment case?

You may be able to use the entrapment defense and have the case dropped if law enforcement did any of the following:
  • pressured you to commit the crime
  • heavily pursued you to commit the crime
  • threatened to blackmail you to commit the crime

Other Possible Defenses

Your defense depends on the specific facts of your case, of course. However, other possible defenses to a child enticement charge can include:

You invited the child to meet you for legal reasons – not sexual in nature.

The child was 15 or older at the time of the alleged invitation.

Penalties for Child Enticement Conviction

Child enticement is a class 4 felony. Like some other sex crime charges, this one carries an indeterminate sentence. That means you could go to prison for two – six years to life.

If the child is physically injured during the event, then the charge is a class 3 felony. That increases your maximum sentence by an additional four years because now you’ve committed a crime of violence that presents “an extraordinary risk of harm to society.” Now you’re looking at four – 16 years to life in prison.

Other factors, such as previous convictions, can affect your case. For instance, if you’ve previously been convicted of attempted enticement of a child prosecutors can charge you with a class 3 felony instead of a class 4.

In addition to prison time, you’ll also have to register as a sex offender, be on supervised parole, and receive sex offender treatment and evaluations.

Statutory Rape

What is Statutory Rape?

Statutory rape occurs when an adult and someone who is not of the age of consent engage in a sexual act or acts. In Colorado, statutory rape is called sexual assault. It’s a class 4 felony or a class 1 misdemeanor.

What is the Age of Consent?

In Colorado, the age of consent is 17. At this age, state law says the young person can legally decide whether they want to have sex with someone.

The Romeo and Juliet Exception

Now, there are instances when someone may not be charged with statutory rape. For example, 15- and 16-year-olds can have consensual sex with someone who is less than 10 years older than them.

That means someone who is 16 can be intimate with someone who’s 22. C.R.S. § 18-3-402(e) and C.R.S. § 18-3-402(3)

Statutory Rape is an Extraordinary Risk Crime

Extraordinary risk crimes have penalty enhancers, meaning, if you’re found guilty, the law states your sentence must be increased. For statutory rape, an additional six months are tacked on to your sentence.

Depending on whether you’re charged with a misdemeanor or felony statutory rape, you could face between six months in county jail to six-and-a-half years in prison.

Mistake-of-Age Defense

Some states allow for a mistake-of-age defense in some circumstances. In Colorado, there is only one instance in which a mistake-of-age defense is allowed by the courts.

Consider this scenario:

Let’s say you are at a local bar drinking with friends and you strike up a conversation with a young woman who is also drinking at the bar.

Now, we all know just because someone is drinking at a bar does not necessarily mean they are old enough to drink. Nevertheless, the conversation with the young woman leads to the two of you dating and later a sexual relationship.

At first, you believe the young woman to be at least 21 years old. However, she later confesses she is only 17. You’re 27 years old. Per Colorado law, your intimate relationship is legal because she is of the age of consent. But, when the police show up at your door, you find out the young woman is only 16 years of age. Now you could be in legal trouble.

In this scenario, the mistake-of-age defense meets the legal requirements because the young woman is 16 years old.

Colorado law states, “If the criminality of conduct depends on a child being younger than eighteen years of age and the child was in fact at least fifteen years of age, it shall be an affirmative defense that the defendant reasonably believed the child to be eighteen years of age or older.” C.R.S.A. § 18-1-503.5(1)

When Mistake-of-Age Defense Will Not Apply

It is important to note that the mistake-of-age defense does not work in all cases. State law does not permit this defense if the child is younger than 15 or if the defendant is a person in a position of trust.

Position of trust refers to someone who has some charge over a young person, for instance, a teacher, counselor, youth minister, and so on.

Penalties for Statutory Rape

Statutory rape is a class 1 misdemeanor in Colorado if the child is between 15 and 16 years old. C.R.S.A. § 18-3-402(e) The crime becomes a class 4 felony if the child is 14 years old or younger at the time of the sexual relationship and the defendant is at least four years older than the victim. C.R.S.A. § 18-3-402(d)

Statutory rape is also considered an extraordinary risk crime. It comes with an increased sentence of six months. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-501.

Depending on the charges, you could receive six – 24 months in jail or two – six-and-a-half years in prison. Additionally, people convicted of statutory rape must register as sex offenders until the court decides they no longer have to register.

Talk to a Colorado Sex Crimes Defense Attorney

Sex crimes convictions can haunt you for life. If you face sex crimes charges, talk to a member of our Criminal Defense Team immediately. Call 303-688-0944 to set up a case assessment or click here to schedule the meeting online. Do not wait if you’re charged with sex crimes. Your livelihood, reputation, and future depend on a strong defense.

More Than Just Lawyers. Lawyers for Your Life.

Learn more about our law firm’s philosophy and values.