Colorado Sexual Assault (Rape) and Contact Laws
Explained by Colorado Sex Crimes Lawyers

woman being pushed onto table by violent man

Colorado sex crime lawyers explain rape and sexual assault / contact laws

Under the Colorado Revised Statutes, sex crimes are divided into two basic categories: sexual assault and sexual contact.

Sexual assault involves penetration or intrusion. It includes rape, anal rape, forced copulation, and penetration with a foreign object.

Sexual contact is unwanted touching of a sexual nature (sexual battery). It includes groping and fondling of genitals.

Colorado sex offenses have serious consequences. In addition to prison time and a hefty fine, felony sex offenses require you to register as a Colorado sex offender.

But sexual assault charges are some of the most difficult to prove. And our compassionate Colorado criminal defense lawyers are some of the best sex crimes lawyers in Denver and Colorado.

To help you better understand the definition and penalties for rape, sexual assault and other Colorado sexual offenses, our Denver criminal lawyers discuss the following, below:

1. What are the main sex crimes in Colorado?

Colorado groups sex crimes into three basic categories:

  • Sexual assault (penetration or intrusion): 18-3-402, C.R.S. Sexual assault includes:
    • rape,
    • anal rape,
    • forced oral copulation, and
    • penetration with a foreign object.
  • Sexual contact (touching): 18-3-404, C.R.S. Sexual contact includes:
    • sexual battery,
    • groping, and
    • fondling.
  • Sexual assault on a child: 18-3-405, C.R.S. Sexual assault on a child occurs:
    • when the victim of sexual assault is a child under fifteen, and
    • the perpetrator is at least four years older.
child pointing

2. Colorado age of consent

The age of consent in Colorado is 17.

When the alleged victim is 17 or older, the main issues in a sex crimes case are:

  • Did a sexual act take place, and
  • If so, did that person knowingly and willingly consent to it?

The victim did not consent if he or she:

  • Objected,
  • Could not understand the sexual conduct,
  • Was unconscious or asleep,
  • Was under the assailant's authority in a hospital or as an inmate at a prison or jail and the assailant used that authority to coerce submission,
  • Was drugged by the assailant, or
  • Was receiving a medical treatment or exam, but the “exam” was inconsistent with reasonable medical practices.

3. Colorado sexual assault penalties

Sexual assault is a felony in Colorado.

Penalties for rape and other acts of penetration and/or intrusion can include:

  • A fine of up to $750,000, and
  • 4-12 years in a Colorado prison.

However, penalties often increase when there were “aggravating factors”, such as:

  • The victim was under 14 years of age,
  • The victim was 15 or 16 and at least 10 years younger than the assailant,
  • The assailant was aided in the crime by another person,
  • The victim suffered serious bodily injury,
  • The assailant used, or threatened the use of, a deadly weapon to cause submission of the victim. 
  • The defendant has a history of violent crime,
  • At the time of the offense the defendant was on parole, on probation, on bond, or serving time for another felony, or
  • The victim was pregnant.1

“Aggravating factors” can increase Colorado sexual assault penalties to as much as, or even more than:

  • 24 years in prison, plus
  • A fine of up to $1,000,000.

And because sexual offenses are considered “extraordinary risk” crimes, sentences can increase even further.

Other sexually related extraordinary risk crimes include:

  • Felony invasion of privacy for sexual gratification,2 and
  • Felony human trafficking for sexual servitude3.

4. Additional consequences of Colorado sex crimes

In addition to prison time and a fine, consequences of Colorado rape and other sex crimes can include:

  • Loss of parental rights,
  • No inheritance rights from a child conceived as a result of a sex crime,
  • No right to be notified of, or object to, the adoption of a child conceived as a result of the sexual offense,
  • Community supervision,
  • Polygraph testing, 
  • Mandatory treatment, and
  • Mandatory drug testing.

5. Colorado sex offender registry

Adults convicted of felony sex crimes will have their names entered into the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's felony sex offender registry.4 Your name will not be included on the registry only if you were convicted as a juvenile or the crime was a misdemeanor.

The following information is included in the Colorado sex offender registry:

  • Name and registration status;
  • Date of birth;
  • Address;
  • Physical description;
  • List of crimes and dates of conviction;
  • Identification (if applicable) as a sexually violent predator; and
  • Modus operandi information (details of predatory habits), if applicable.

Local law enforcement agencies will also be notified when a person who is required to register fails to register, or when a person re-registers in another jurisdiction.5Additionally, anyone considered a sexually violent predator (SVP) is subject to community notification.

Failure to register as a sex offender is a Colorado class 6 felony.6Penalties can include:

  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000 and/or
  • 1 – 1 ½ years imprisonment.

Under certain circumstances, you may petition the court to have your name removed from the registry. Usually this can occur only if it has been 20 years since your offense and you have not been convicted for another sex crime during that period.7

6. Defending Colorado sexual assault charges

The best defenses to Colorado rape and sexual assault charges depend on the facts of your case. Common defenses include (but are not limited to):

  • No sex or sexual contact occurred,
  • The sex was consensual, or
  • You reasonably didn't know the alleged victim didn't or couldn't consent.

Call us for help…

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If you have been charged with a Colorado sex crime, our compassionate Denver sex crimes attorneys are here to help.

Sexual offenses carry serious consequences – not the least of which is the stigma of being a labeled a sex offender.

But we know there are two sides to every story. And we know that you have rights. It's our job to protect them – a trust we take on with the utmost vigor.

Don't let a rape or sexual assault charge smear your good name and land you in prison. Call us today for a free consultation.

We serve communities throughout Colorado and can speak to you by phone. Or we can meet with you in person at our conveniently located Denver office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202
720-955-6112


Legal references:

  1. See 18-3-402, C.R.S. and 18-1.3-401, C.R.S.
  2. 18-3-405.6, C.R.S.
  3. 18-3-504, C.R.S.
  4. 16-22-103, C.R.S.
  5. 16-22-110(2), C.R.S.
  6. 18-3-412.5, C.R.S.
  7. 16-22-113, C.R.S.

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