Age of consent is something that many people overlook. Unfortunately, doing so can get you in a lot of trouble.
Once teens reach adolescence and begin dating, it can be a tricky line to walk if there’s an age gap between two people. What may seem like an innocent teen relationship can turn into something ugly if statutory rape charges are pursued. Therefore, it’s important to understand the basics of age of consent, and what it means for you.
What is the Age of Consent in Colorado
By legal definition, the age of consent is the age at which a person can legally give consent or permission to have sexual relations. Colorado law states that a person of 17 years of age can legally consent to sexual interactions.
The law aims to protect persons 17 or over and several exemptions such as the “Romeo and Juliet law” have been established to prevent the prosecution of underage couples. This close-in-age exemption can provide defense for individuals who have participated in consensual sexual activity in which one or both parties are under the age of consent.
However, if a person over the age of consent has sex with someone under the age of consent, that person could potentially face statutory rape criminal charges.
What is Statutory Rape?
Statutory rape is a criminal offense in which a person has sex with someone who is under the age of consent. This falls under the category of sexual assault, which can result in very serious consequences ranging from misdemeanor to felony charges, depending on the age difference and sexual acts between the two people in question.
Even if the sex technically is consensual — as in both parties give consent — it is still considered sexual assault because the younger person is under the age of consent. Someone convicted of sexual assault under the statutory rape clause will have to register as a sex offender with the state.
Statutory rape is a tricky thing to navigate, as the rules and laws surrounding it vary from state to state. In Colorado, the following laws regarding statutory rape are in place:
- If the defendant had sex with someone under 15 and the defendant is at least four years older and not their spouse, then the defendant can be charged with sexual assault oo a child.
- If the defendant had sex with someone over the age of 15 but under the age of 17 and the defendant is at least 10 years older and not their spouse, then the defendant can be charged with sexual assault.
Penalties for Conviction of Statutory Rape in
Getting convicted of statutory rape in Colorado can result in a range of severe consequences, including:
- Prison time – possibly for the rest of your natural life
- Sex offender registration – possibly for the rest of your natural life
Again, the laws surrounding statutory rape are difficult to navigate and understand. Therefore, it’s best to seek legal counsel from a qualified criminal defense lawyer should you face charges or are being investigated for statutory rape in Colorado. You should also research and understand your rights if you are accused of a sex crime.
Colin M.Bresee is a successful Denver-based sexual assault attorney who specializes in cases of sexual assault. If you’re facing statutory rape charges, contact us now for a consultation. We’re ready to stand by you and take your case.