Sex Crimes in Colorado

Colorado has a range of sex crimes offenses, the law often differentiating between acts committed against adults and those against people under the age of 17. Read on to learn about some common crimes and their penalties.

The state of Colorado recognizes a variety of different crimes, some of which are treated as felonies and others of which are misdemeanor offenses. Any accusation of sex offending, however, can have serious and damaging social, financial, and reputational consequences for both the person accused of the crime and his or her family, so it’s vital to get good legal advice right away. Here are some examples of what you can be charged with in Colorado:

General Sex Offenses

  • Sexual assault: This is a broad term for non-consensual sexual activity that encompasses both assault and battery and rape. Aggravating factors are recognized, such as kidnapping, the use of violence or threats of violence, or date rape drugs.
  • Unlawful sexual contact: This is a less serious offense, involving non-consensual intimate touching of the victim, for instance their genitals, breasts, or buttocks. This offense still carries a jail term.
  • Indecent exposure: This occurs when someone exposes their genitals to cause alarm or offense to another person; it is usually a misdemeanor offense.
  • Public indecency: This is revealing of intimate parts (other than genitals) in a lewd manner. This includes having sex in a public place (public breastfeeding is not covered in this).
  • Prostitution: Prostitution is illegal in Colorado, but adults who buy or sell sex are usually guilty of misdemeanor offenses only. Involvement in child prostitution has more serious penalties.
  • Incest: Colorado prohibits sexual contact with your children or other blood relatives (including siblings and uncles/aunts) and with your stepchildren or children by adoption. There are different degrees of incest; the most serious involve a parent/stepparent and their child or stepchild who is under the age of 21 or any relative who is underage.

Offenses Against Children

  • Statutory rape: The age at which people can consent to sex in Colorado is 17. However, under the state’s “Romeo and Juliet law,” consensual sex between a child under 15 and someone less than four years older (for instance, a 13-year-old and a 17-year-old) is considered legal. If the other person is more than four years older than the child, they’re committing a felony. Consensual sex between a person aged 15-17 with someone less than 10 years older (for instance a 16-year-old and a 25-year-old) is also legal. If the other person is more than 10 years older, they’re committing a misdemeanor.
  • Child sexual assault: This is the equivalent of the “unlawful sexual contact” crime applied to children under 15. It applies when the perpetrator is more than four years older than the child. More serious sexual offenses against children fall under the general offense of “sexual assault.”
  • Internet luring: This is contact with a child (under the age of 15) online, during which the person describes explicit sexual conduct and attempts to meet in person.
  • Child pornography: Adults involved in the production, distribution and procurement of child pornography are committing offenses.

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What Are Penalties for Sex Offenses in Colorado?

A sex offense conviction can carry a weighty penalty, but when it comes to sentencing the circumstances of the offense are also taken into account by the court. More serious sexual crimes are often considered a Class 2,3 or 4 felony, depending on their severity. Class 2 felonies are the most serious and carry a jail term of between 8 and 24 years and a financial penalty of up to $1,000,000.

Class 3 felonies carry a jail term of 4 to 12 years and a fine of up to $750,000. Class 4 felonies carry a jail term of 2 to 6 years and a fine of up to $500,000. Class 1 misdemeanor sex offenses carry a lesser sentence of between 6 months and two years in jail and a fine of between $500 and $5,000. The penalties for Class 2 and 3 misdemeanors are lower and aimed at “public nuisance” type offenses.

Everyone convicted of a sex crime in Colorado, including misdemeanor offenses, has to go on the Sex Offender Registry. In some cases, people can apply to be taken off after five or ten years, but those deemed “Sexually Violent Perpetrators” at a high risk of reoffending will remain on the registry for life (or until their conviction is overturned).

Here are some examples of penalties for sex offenses:

  • Sexual assault: The sentence will depend on the severity of the assault. Assaults that fall into the Class 2 category include those that involve more than one perpetrator, where the victim suffered serious injury, or where the perpetrator threatened the victim with a deadly weapon.
  • Unlawful sexual contact: Depending on the circumstances, unlawful sexual contact may be treated as a Class 4 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Child sexual assault: This is considered either a Class 3 or 4 felony, depending on the circumstances.
  • Statutory rape: If the victim is 15 years of age or younger and the perpetrator is more than 4 years older, this offense will be treated as a Class 4 felony. If the victim is between the age of 15 and 17 and the perpetrator is more than 10 years older, the offense is treated as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Prostitution: Prostitution is considered a Class 3 misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail and a fine of between $50 and $750. Patronizing a prostitute is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor, and patronizing a prostituted child is considered a class 3 felony.
  • Indecent exposure and public indecency: Both are generally considered Class 1 misdemeanor offenses.

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When Should I Get an Attorney?

Being charged with any crime is stressful, but a conviction for a sex offense can have a painful and potentially ruinous effect on your personal and professional life. Make sure you contact a lawyer as soon as you are charged with a sex offense and before you answer any police questions. All communication you have with your defense attorney is confidential.

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Schedule a Consultation With Colorado Sex Crimes Defense Attorney Patrick F. Welsh

If you need any legal advice for a charge of this nature, Patrick F. Welsh at Welsh Law, LLC, is an experienced and successful Colorado criminal law attorney.

Call Welsh Law, LLC, at (720) 836-1777 today for a free 30-minute consultation.

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Sex Crime Case Results

  • Client charged with Sex Assault on Child, Incest, and Sex Assault on Child/Pattern of Abuse. Mr. Welsh was able to successfully negotiate a plea offer with the district attorney to a 2-year deferred judgment for Contributing to Delinquency of a Minor.

View more case results here.