Sexual Assault on a Child by One in a Position of Trust
(Colorado 18-3-405.3 C.R.S.)

crying girl with hand covering face

What is sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust?

In Colorado, you commit the crime of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust when:

  • You knowingly engage in sexual contact with a child under the age of eighteen, and
  • You are responsible in any way for that child's health, welfare, education or supervision.

The crime is set forth in section 18-3-405.3 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. It is a more serious version of 18-3-405 C.R.S. – Colorado's sexual assault on a child law.

Consequences of sexual assault on a child

Penalties for sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust depend mostly on:

  • The victim's age, and
  • Whether the conduct is part of a pattern of sexual abuse.

At a minimum, the crime is punishable by two years in prison. And if you possess a deadly weapon during commission of the offense, or if anyone other than you or an accomplice is seriously injured, you could end up in prison for life. In addition, sexually assaulting a child will require you to register as a Colorado sex offender.

To help you better understand 18-3-405.3 C.R.S., sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

crying baby and his mother

1. What is sexual assault on a child?

Although this crime is called “sexual assault,” the term is misleading. Sexual assault on a child is the underage equivalent of Colorado's sexual contact law, 18-3-404 C.R.S.

Sexual assault on a child does not involve penetration or intrusion. When the crime is rape, anal rape, forced oral sex, or violation with an object, it is punished – regardless of the victim's age – under 18-3-402 C.R.S. -- Colorado's sexual assault law.

Sexual contact (and therefore, sexual assault on a child), on the other hand, consists of touching breast(s), buttocks, or genital area for the purpose of sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

It applies both when:

  • you touch the child, or
  • you cause the child to touch you.

To commit sexual assault on a child, it is not necessary that either person be naked. Touching through clothing is sufficient if the purpose is sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.

2. What does it mean to be “in a position of trust”?

You occupy a position of trust with respect to a child whenever you are responsible, in any way and for any amount of time, for the child's:

  • health,
  • education,
  • welfare, or
  • supervision.

Specifically, 18-3-401(3.5) C.R.S. provides:

"One in a “position of trust” includes, but is not limited to, any person who is a parent or acting in the place of a parent and charged with any of a parent's rights, duties, or responsibilities concerning a child, including a guardian or someone otherwise responsible for the general supervision of a child's welfare, or a person who is charged with any duty or responsibility for the health, education, welfare, or supervision of a child, including foster care, child care, family care, or institutional care, either independently or through another, no matter how brief, at the time of an unlawful act."

Note that unlike 18-3-405 C.R.S. – Colorado's regular sexual assault on a child law – sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust applies to all children under 18, regardless of the difference in age between the child and the person accused.

3. Consequences of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust

3.1. Basic criminal penalties

Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust is usually a class 4 felony when the child is 15, 16 or 17 years old. Under this circumstance, consequences of Colorado sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust include:

  • 2-6 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $2,000-$500,000.

3.2. Child under 15 or habitual sexual abuse

Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust increases to a class 3 felony, however, if:

  • The child was under the age of fifteen, or
  • The offense was part of a pattern of sexual abuse.

In either of these cases, the penalties for Colorado sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust can include:

  • 4-12 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $3,000-$750,000.

In addition, if a pattern of abuse is alleged, there is no statute of limitations on the offense. This means that you can be charged with the crime decades after the alleged contact occurred.

3.3. Deadly weapon or serious bodily injury

Sexual assault on a child is categorized as a Colorado violent crime if, during the commission of the offense:

  • You use, possess, or threaten the use of a deadly weapon, or
  • You cause serious bodily injury or death to any person (other than yourself or an accomplice).

Doing any of these things will result in a mandatory minimum sentence equal to the midpoint of the possible sentencing range -- that is to:

  • 4 years if the child was 15, 16 or 17, or,
  • 8 years if the child was under 15 or there was a pattern of abuse. 

Sexual offenses that are violent crimes also carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, regardless of the class of the felony.

3.4. Colorado sex offender registration

A conviction on charges of sexually assaulting a child will result in mandatory registration on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's sex offender registry.

If you fail to register as a sex offender as required, you face Colorado class 6 felony charges. Penalties for failing to register as a sex offender can include:

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

4. Defenses to sexually assaulting a child

There are many defenses to accusations of sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust. Among the most common are:

  • You didn't touch the child.
  • The child didn't touch you.
  • The touching was accidental.
  • The touching did not involve an intimate part,
  • The touching was not for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification, or
  • You didn't occupy a position of trust with respect to the child.

5. How we go about proving your innocence

Our caring Colorado sex crimes lawyers know that innocent people are often accused of unlawful sexual contact with a child. Usually it is the child's word against yours – and children are not the most reliable of witnesses. Sometimes they just misinterpret an innocent situation. And sometimes they are used as a weapon between battling adults.

So although it can be upsetting, like all the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys we conduct a thorough background check of the accuser and potential witnesses. We do this by:

  • Subpoenaing their school, counseling, and medical records;
  • Checking their email records and social networking accounts;
  • Conducting interviews of friends, family, schoolmates and social media contacts; and
  • Running background checks of all available public documents.

As top Denver sex crimes attorney Michael Becker explains:

“People rightly try to teach their children that intimate touching is wrong. But children are impressionable. Sometimes they mistake affection and concern with wrongdoing. And sometimes they are persuaded to lie. The earlier we come on board the easier it is for us to uncover improper motives and preserve our client's good name.”

Call us for help…

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A conviction for sexual assault on a child can land you in prison and get you labeled a sex offender. It can keep you from the job you want and negatively impact your relationships with friends and family.

Don't let an accusation of sexual assault ruin your life. Contact us for a free consultation. One of our compassionate and experienced Colorado sex crimes attorneys will get back to you promptly to discuss your case and the best defense strategies for sexual assault on a child charges.

We represent clients accused of sex crimes  in Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Thornton, Pueblo, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and elsewhere throughout Colorado.

In Denver, our centrally located home office is located at:

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

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