Colorado Statutory Rape Charges

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By: Bill Henry
PublishedJul 29, 2021
5 minute read

Statutory rape is a serious crime in Colorado. If you have a sexually intimate relationship with someone who is not of the age of consent, you could be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony sexual assault charge. These sex crime convictions call for jail or prison time and major fines, not to mention a criminal record that cannot be sealed. It is imperative that you get a statutory rape defense attorney on your side as soon as possible.

This article explores:

What is the Age of Consent?
What is Statutory Rape?
Mistake of Age Defense
Charges for Statutory Rape in Colorado
Sex Offender Registration

Meet with a Statutory Rape Defense Attorney

If you are charged with statutory rape, you should consult a statutory rape defense attorney as soon as possible. Robinson & Henry’s Criminal Defense Team is experienced in helping individuals develop a strong defense to fight these potentially life-altering charges.

Get a case assessment with a statutory rape defense attorney. During this meeting, you and a statutory rape defense attorney will discuss the facts of your case, your charges, your legal rights, your next steps, and more. Call 303-688-0944 to set up that meeting or schedule the appointment online.

The Age of Consent & Statutory Rape

What is the Age of Consent?

Age of consent is the age at which an individual can legally consent to have sex with another person. In Colorado, the age of consent is 17.

What is Statutory Rape?

You’ve likely heard the term statutory rape. Statutory rape occurs when an adult has sex with someone who is not old enough to provide their legal consent.

In Colorado, statutory rape is called sexual assault, and it is a class 1 misdemeanor or a class 4 felony.

There are instances, though, when you will not be charged with statutory rape if you have a sexual relationship with someone who is not old enough to legally consent. This is commonly called the Romeo and Juliet exception.

15- and 16-Year-Olds

Individuals in Colorado who are 15 or 16 years old can have consensual sex with someone who is less than 10 years older than them.

For instance, let’s say you are 23 years old, and you are dating a 16-year-old. Legally, you cannot be charged with sexual assault for having sex with your dating partner because you are less than 10 years older than him or her. C.R.S. § 18-3-402(e) and C.R.S. § 18-3-402(3)

However, if you are 26 and you have sex with a 16-year-old, you can be charged with class 1 misdemeanor sexual assault.

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.

Charges for Statutory Rape in Colorado

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)

Penalties for Statutory Rape 

Important Note About Penalties:

It is incredibly important for us to note that aggravating factors can significantly affect your potential sentence. The following penalties are the basic of basics if you will. You must talk to a statutory rape defense attorney to get a better idea of what kind of sentence you could face based on the facts of your case.

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

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

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

Sex Offender Registration

Individuals convicted of sexual assault in violation of C.R.S. § 18-3-402 must register as a sex offender until the court decides to release them from the requirement.

However, after a period of time, you can petition the court to discontinue the registration if this was your first unlawful sexual offense.

For misdemeanor statutory rape, you can petition the court 5 years from the date of final release from the court’s jurisdiction. A class 4 felony conviction must wait 10 years. Colorado Bureau of Investigation

Intensive Supervision Probation Program

Important Note About Parole:

Parole lengths depend on the type of conviction. You will need to talk with your statutory rape defense attorney to better understand how long you could be on parole.

If you are paroled after serving prison time for a felony sexual offense, state law requires you to participate in 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
10 Years of Probation

A class 4 felony sexual assault requires at least 10 years of probation.

When the probationary period ends, the court will set 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)

Protect Your Freedom & Reputation

A lot is at stake when you face statutory rape charges: your freedom, relationships, reputation, and so much more. When you hire a statutory rape defense attorney, you’re hiring someone who will advocate for your rights.

Statutory rape charges carry serious consequences. Schedule a case assessment with one of our statutory rape defense attorneys. The two of you will discuss your rights and how you should proceed.

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

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