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Colorado Criminal Sex Crimes Laws: Age of Consent II – An Analysis

Statutory rape and age of consent laws come from English common law and have been enforced to varying degrees for nearly 8 centuries.

The American legal system adopted these laws and during the past century states have modified and updated the laws to better address present day issues.

In recent years, there was a shift in the views that statutory rape laws should only apply to young females. Today, most laws are not gender specific. These laws were originally intended to protect the chastity, (virginity) of young women.

In a few states today it can still be argued that previous sexual experience precludes a young woman from protection under the statutory rape laws. It is also still an affirmative defense in some states to claim there was sufficient reason to believe a minor was older than their actual age.

These laws were originally intended to protect the chastity, (virginity) of young women. In a few states today it can still be argued that previous sexual experience precludes a young woman from protection under the statutory rape laws. It is also still an affirmative defense in some states to claim there was sufficient reason to believe a minor was older than their actual age.

Colorado’s Sex Crimes Laws

The phrase statutory rape is the old name of the crime now called Sexual Contact With a Child in Colorado

It is a term used to describe sexual activities where one participant is below the age required to legally consent to the behavior. Although it usually refers to adults engaging in sex with minors under the age of consent, it is a generic term, – and very few jurisdictions including Colorado- use the actual term “statutory rape” in the language of statutes.

Different jurisdictions use many different statutory terms for the crime, such as “sexual assault,” “rape of a child,” “corruption of a minor,” “carnal knowledge of a minor,” “unlawful carnal knowledge”, or simply “carnal knowledge.” Statutory rape differs from forcible rape in that overt force or threat need not be present. The laws presume coercion, because a minor or mentally challenged adult is legally incapable of giving consent to the act.

Here is the Relevant Colorado Law:

18-3-402. Sexual assault. (1) Any actor who knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration a victim commits sexual assault if:

(a) The actor causes submission of the victim by means of sufficient consequence reasonably calculated
to cause submission against the victim’s will; or

(b) The actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim’s conduct; or

(c) The actor knows that the victim submits erroneously, believing the actor to be the victim’s spouse; or

(d) At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at
least four years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim; or

(e) At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is at least fifteen years of age but less than seventeen years of age and the actor is at least ten years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim; or

(f) The victim is in custody of law or detained in a hospital or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim and uses this position of authority to coerce the victim to submit, unless the act is incident to a lawful search; or

(g) The actor, while purporting to offer a medical service, engages in treatment or examination of a victim for other than a bona fide medical purpose or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices.

(2) Sexual assault is a class 4 felony, except as provided in subsections (3), (4), and (5) of this section.

(3) Sexual assault is a class 1 misdemeanor if committed under the circumstances of paragraph (e) of subsection (1) of this section.

(4) Sexual assault is a class 3 felony if it is attended by any one or more of the following circumstances

(a) The actor causes submission of the victim through the actual application of physical force or physical violence; or

(b) The actor causes submission of the victim by threat of imminent death, serious bodily injury, extreme pain, or kidnapping, to be inflicted on anyone, and the victim believes that the actor has the present ability to execute these threats; or

(c) The actor causes submission of the victim by threatening to retaliate in the future against the victim, or any other person, and the victim reasonably believes that the actor will execute this threat. As used in thisparagraph (c), “to retaliate” includes threats of kidnapping, death, serious bodily injury, or extreme pain;

or

(d) The actor has substantially impaired the victim’s power to appraise or control the victim’s conduct byemploying, without the victim’s consent, any drug, intoxicant, or other means for the purpose of causing submission; or

(e) The victim is physically helpless and the actor knows the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented.

(5) (a) Sexual assault is a class 2 felony if any one or more of the following circumstances exist:

(I) In the commission of the sexual assault, the actor is physically aided or abetted by one or more other persons; or

(II) The victim suffers serious bodily injury; or

(III) The actor is armed with a deadly weapon or an article used or fashioned in a manner to cause a person to reasonably believe that the article is a deadly weapon or represents verbally or otherwise that the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and uses the deadly weapon, article, or representation to cause  submission of the victim.

(b) (I) If a defendant is convicted of sexual assault pursuant to this subsection (5), the court shall sentence the defendant in accordance with section 18-1-105 (9) (e). A person convicted solely of sexual assault pursuant to this subsection (5) shall not be sentenced under the crime of violence provisions of section

16-11-309 (2), C.R.S. Any sentence for a conviction under this subsection (5) shall be consecutive to any sentence for a conviction for a crime of violence under section 16-11-309, C.R.S.
(II) The provisions of this paragraph (b) shall apply to offenses committed prior to November 1, 1998.
(6) Any person convicted of sexual assault committed on or after November 1, 1998, under any of the circumstances described in this section shall be sentenced in accordance with the provisions of part 8 of article 13 of title 16, C.R.S.

Strict Liability – Mutual Consent No Defense

When the object of an attempt to sexually assault or entice is an existing person under the age of fifteen years, the belief that the person is over the age of fifteen years is irrelevant. Section 18-1 -503.5(3), C.R.S. 2005

If the criminality of conduct depends on a child being younger than fifteen years of age, it  is  no defense that the defendant did not know the child’s age or that the defendant reasonably believed the child to be fifteen years of age or older

Statutory rape is perhaps the only offense which both its perpetrators and victims find overbroad. Perpetrators find it overbroad because the offense can be committed despite the absence of any force (or fraud or coercion), despite the presence of the victim.s factual consent, despite the absence of the defendant.s mens rea, and despitethe presence of the defendant.s honest and reasonable mistake that the victim is above the age of consent.

Victims similarly find it overbroad because the offense goes so far overboard in protecting their negative sexual autonomy (freedom from unwanted intercourse) as to violate their positive autonomy (freedom to engage in wanted intercourse).

If you are under invesitgation for or charged with statutory rape — call our firm for an immediate consulation – you will need a good lawyer.

 

The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg: Sex Crimes Defense – Statutory Rape

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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
The Edward Building
8400 East Prentice Avenue - Suite 420
Greenwood Village, Colorado 80111
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Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
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