Colorado Sexual Assault Charges

A sexual assault conviction in Colorado carries serious, long-lasting consequences. From prison time and fines to personal and professional complications, a sexual assault conviction will follow you for the rest of your life. That’s why it is imperative that you seek a sexual assault defense attorney. A sexual assault defense attorney knows the law and will protect your legal rights.

This article explores:

What to Do If You are Arrested for Sexual Assault
Possible Defenses for Your Case
What Constitutes Sexual Assault in Colorado
Classes of Sexual Assaults Charges
Requesting Parole
Sex Offender Registration & Decades of Probation

Charged with Sexual Assault?

Set up a free, initial case assessment with a member of our Criminal Defense Team today. Call 303-688-0944 or schedule the meeting online.

What to Do If You are Arrested for Sexual Assault

If you are arrested for sexual assault, the first step is to contact a sexual assault defense attorney. Also, never give any kind of statement to the police about the alleged attack without your sexual assault defense attorney present. Remember, you have the right to remain silent.

Do not count on the criminal justice system to protect your innocence. It is up to you to take a proactive approach to protect your rights. You need an ally to protect your innocence and your legal rights. Your sexual assault defense attorney will be your greatest ally if you face sexual assault charges.

How a Sexual Assault Defense Attorney Can Help You

A sexual assault defense attorney knows the penalties of this type of conviction are severe and life-changing. They will help you build a strong defense to fight the charges and reach the best possible outcome for you.

Possible Defenses for Your Case

Your sexual assault 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

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 Constitutes Sexual Assault in Colorado

Sexual assault occurs when someone knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or penetration on a victim.

You can be convicted of sexual assault if you:
  • force the victim to submit to you against their will
  • know the victim cannot understand what is happening to them
  • are aware the victim mistakenly believes you are their spouse
  • make the victim believe a medical examination or service you perform on him or her is for medical treatment when it is not
  • know the victim cannot consent because they are physically helpless; for instance, if they are inebriated or asleep
  • have supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim who is detained in a hospital or other institution and use your authority position to coerce the victim to submit to you
  • are at least four years older than the victim who is 14 years old or younger at the time of the act and you are not their spouse
  • are at least 10 years older than the victim who is between 15 and 16 years of age at the time of the act and you are not their spouse

We break down this list by class of charges in the following paragraphs.

Classes of Sexual Assaults Charges

Sexual assault charges range from class 2 felonies to class 1 misdemeanors.

A sexual assault is considered a crime of violence if the victim is injured, threatened, intimidated, or force is used against them during the assault.

Under Colorado law, crimes of violence present an extraordinary risk to society. As such, the law requires the court to increase a defendant’s sentence if they are convicted of a crime of violence.

Having a crime of violence designation on a sexual assault charge will tack on years to your sentence. A crime of violence applies only to felony sexual assaults. C.R.S. § 18-1.3-406(2)(b)(I)

Additionally, sexual assault records cannot be sealed in Colorado. C.R.S.A. § 24-72-703(12)(d)(II)

Important Note About Penalties:

It is incredibly important for us to note that aggravating factors can significantly affect your potential sentence. The penalty ranges listed below are the basics. You must talk to a sexual assault defense attorney to receive a more accurate picture of what kind of sentence you could face based on the facts of your case.

Class 2 Felony Sexual Assault

The most serious sexual assault charge is a class 2 felony.

Sexual assaults are a class 2 felony under any of the above factors along with any of these circumstances:
  • the victim is seriously injured during the attack
  • you use a deadly weapon to force the victim to submit to you
  • if someone helped you carry out the assault
Up to Life in Prison

Sex offenses have some of the harshest penalties of all crimes in Colorado. If you are convicted of a class 2 felony sexual assault you will receive an indeterminate sentence. You must serve at least to the midpoint of the presumptive sentencing range.

“The court shall be required to sentence the defendant to the department of corrections for an indeterminate sentence of at least the midpoint in the presumptive range for the punishment of that class of felony up to the defendant’s natural life.” C.R.S. § 18-1.3-401(8)(e)

Let’s break down the penalties:

The sentencing range for a class 2 felony is eight to 24 years in prison. As a result, the defendant faces a minimum of 15-and-a-half years in prison because that is the midpoint of the sentencing range.

The indeterminate sentence portion of the law means you could get up to life in prison. Your release will be up to the state parole board.

No Sentence Reductions

Class 2 felony sexual assault sentences are not eligible for suspension or probation. Therefore, the court cannot approve a deferred prosecution. C.R.S. §18-1.3-401 (8)(d)(II)

Deferred prosecution is a type of plea agreement between the defendant and the prosecutor. The defendant agrees to admit their guilt to the crime, but instead of being sentenced, the accused agrees to certain stipulations for a period of time – for one, not breaking any more laws. If the individual completes all the necessary requirements, the charge is dropped. A successful deferred prosecution allows the charge to be sealed.

Again, deferred prosecution is not an option for class 2 felony sexual assault charges.

Class 3 Felony Sexual Assault

Sexual assaults are reduced to a class 3 felony under various scenarios. For instance, a sexual assault would be considered a class 3 felony if the victim is unconscious or helpless. Using physical force to make the victim comply is a class 3 felony.

Other factors of class 3 felony sexual assault:
  • using drugs or other intoxicants to impair the victim
  • threatening to kill the victim or come after them later

The sentencing range for this crime is between four and 12 years in prison, but the maximum sentence increases to 16 years imprisonment with a crime of violence enhancer.

Class 4 Felony Sexual Assault
You can be charged with a class 4 felony sexual assault if you:
  • force someone to submit to you against their will
  • if the victim cannot comprehend what is happening to them
  • if they mistakenly believe you are their spouse
Other examples include circumstances in which you:
  • are at least four years older than the victim who is 14 years old or younger at the time of the act and you are not their spouse
  • have supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim who is detained in the hospital or other institution and use your authority position to coerce the victim to submit to you
  • make the victim believe the medical examination or service is for medical treatment when it is not

The presumptive range for this class 4 felony is between two and six years in prison.

The sentence increases by six months if the case involves statutory rape, as this crime is considered an extraordinary risk crime. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-501

The maximum range increases by 2 years in the event of a crime of violence.

Class 1 Misdemeanor Sexual Assault

In Colorado, it is considered sexual assault to engage in a sexual relationship with someone who is 15- or 16-years-old and you are at least 10 years older than them. Statutory rape is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Statutory rape is considered an extraordinary risk crime and comes with an increased sentence. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-501

The penalty for a class 1 misdemeanor sexual assault can include one or all of the following:
  • six to 24 months in a county jail
  • a fine between $500 and $5,000

Requesting Parole

After a defendant serves their minimum sentence, he or she may begin to seek parole.

State law requires someone convicted of this crime to participate in a mental health counseling program or get treatment approved by the parole board.

Important Note About Parole:

Parole lengths depend on the type of conviction. Depending on the type of offense, you could be on parole for the rest of your life. However, you need to talk with your sexual assault defense attorney to get a better idea of how long you could be on parole.

Intensive Supervision Probation Program

If you are paroled after serving prison time for a felony sexual offense, state law requires you to participate in what it calls the intensive supervision probation program. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-1007

People in this program receive the highest level of supervision of anyone on probation.

The intensive supervision probation can:
  • severely restrict your activities
  • call for daily contact with your probation officer
  • impose a monitored curfew
  • order home and employment visits and monitoring
  • require drug and alcohol screenings
  • refer treatment and physiological observation
  • oversee restitution payments

Sexually Violent Predator Evaluation

Individuals convicted of sexual assault must undergo a mental health sex offense assessment to determine if they are sexually violent predators. C.R.S.A. § 18-3-414.5

If the probation department and its evaluators determine a defendant is a sexually violent predator, the sex offender registration will carry that designation. Someone deemed to be a sexually violent predator must register as a sex offender for the rest of their lives. C.R.S.A. § 16-22-108(d)(I)

Therefore, when you move into a new house or apartment, your neighbors get notified that you are registered as a sexually violent predator.

Sex Offender Registration & Decades of 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.

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 last for the rest of their life.

10 Years of Probation

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 probation officer and treatment provider assigned to the individual will testify about the individual’s treatment progression and whether they have followed the conditions of their probation.

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 remain on probation, this decision must be reviewed every three years. C.R.S.A. § 18-1.3-1008(3)(b)

A Sexual Assault Defense Attorney is Your Greatest Ally

Your freedom and reputation are on the line when you are charged with sexual assault.

A sexual assault defense attorney is your greatest supporter if you face these serious allegations. Before you do anything else, talk to a sexual assault defense attorney.

Our Criminal Defense Team offers a free case assessment during which you’ll discuss the facts of your case, your legal rights, potential options moving forward, the cost of your defense, and more.

Call 303-688-0944 to set up that appointment or schedule it online.

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