In Colorado, sentences for adult sexual offense crimes vary greatly depending on the specific facts of the case. Was force used? Was the actor in a position of authority over the victim? Or, was the victim incapable of appraising the situation? These are just some of the circumstances that can have a great effect on an actor’s sentence if found guilty of a sexual offense in Colorado.
Colorado provides a number a sentence ranges for sexual crimes based on the actions of the actor. These ranges help guide the court in determining a sentence. However, Colorado also has enacted an indeterminate sentence statute for sex offenses. Sec. 18-1.3-1004. Practically, this statute provides for a minimum sentence and extends the upper end of a sentencing range to life.
There are two broad categories of sexual crimes against adults in Colorado: Unlawful Sexual Contact, Sec. 18-3-304; and Sexual Assault, Sec. 183-402.
A person commits unlawful sexual contact in Colorado if the actor knowingly touches another’s intimate parts or knowingly receives touching of intimate parts, even if over clothing, where:
- The victim does not consent;
- In actor knows the victim is incapable of consent;
- The actor knows the victim is physically helpless and has not consented;
- The actor has impaired the victim through the use of drugs, alcohol, or other substances for the purpose of causing submission;
- The victim is in custody or a hospital and the actor uses his or her authority over the victim to coerce submission, unless incident to a lawful search; or
- The actor is a medical provider and treats or examines the victim in a manner inconsistent with reasonable medical practices. Sec. 18-3-404.
A person convicted of unlawful sexual contact commits a class 1 misdemeanor and is subject to an increased maximum sentence for committing an extraordinary risk crime. The sentencing range for this offense is 6 months to 24 months.
However, if the actor compelled the victim to submit by use of force, intimidation, or threat, the crime is classified as a class 4 felony. This classification is significant because it can raise the sentence to a minimum of 5 years up to life pursuant to Colorado’s indeterminate sentencing statute.
Similar to unlawful sexual contact, there are several different ways a person can commit sexual assault. Each set of circumstances carries its own classification and its own sentencing possibilities. A person commits sexual assault if he or she knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or penetration on a victim when:
- The actor causes the victim to submit against the victim’s will;
- The actor knows the victim is incapable of appraising the victim’s conduct;
- The actor knows the victim consented erroneously, thinking the actor was his or her spouse;
- The victim was less than 15 years old and the actor was at least 4 years older;
- The victim was between 15 and 17 years old and the actor was at least 10 years older and not the spouse;
- The victim was in custody or a hospital and actor used his or her authority to gain the victim’s submission;
- The actor used his or her authority as a medical treatment provider to assault the victim under the guise of treatment; or
- The actor knew the victim was physically helpless and had not consented. Sec. 18-3-402.
Generally, these offenses are class 4 felonies and carry sentences of between 5 years and life. However, there are exceptions and enhancements. If the victim was between 15 and 17 years old and the actor at least 10 years older, the crime is a class 1 misdemeanor and extraordinary risk crime. Such a crime would carry a penalty of between 6 months and 24 months’ incarceration. If the victim was physically incapable of consent, the actor used threat of death or force to gain submission, or the actor used a drug or other intoxicant to gain submission, the crime becomes a class 3 felony. The minimum penalty goes up to 10 years with possible maximum of life. If the actor is armed with a deadly weapon and threatens its use, is aided by another in the attack, or if the victim suffers a serious bodily injury, the crime becomes a class 2 misdemeanor and carries a minimum sentence of 16 years and a maximum possible sentence of life.
In addition to incarceration, Colorado sex offense crimes carry fines, parole requirements, treatment and evaluation protocols, and other consequences. Sexual offenses against children carry different penalties, too. These are topics for another post.
Colorado has enacted tough and life-changing consequences for those convicted of a sexual crime. If you are charged with a sexual crime in Colorado, The Bussey Law Firm, P.C., can help you build an aggressive defense that protects your rights and fights for the best possible outcome in your case. For a confidential consultation, call us today at (719) 401-0585.