Sexual assault is the most serious crime in Colorado after murder. And in the current cultural climate of #MeToo, activist prosecutors may pursue criminal charges even when the evidence is problematic or non-existent.
Our Denver sexual assault attorneys have a long track record of getting sex crime charges lessened to minor offenses or completely dropped. And we can usually achieve a charge reduction or dismissal through negotiation alone and no trial.
1. Can rape charges get dismissed in Colorado?
There are several possible defense strategies that could get a sexual assault charge dismissed, including:
- No penetrative sex acts took place, and the accuser is lying (perhaps out of anger or revenge);
- The accuser consented to having sex and is now lying about being raped (perhaps out of regret over the sex or to get you into trouble);
- The accuser was raped by a stranger, and you were mistakenly identified by the accuser (such as out of a police lineup); or
- You genuinely believed the accuser consented to the sex, and there was a miscommunication that reasonably made you believe the accuser consented.
The majority of sexual assault cases consist of no physical evidence and boil down to “he said/she said” testimonies. So our Denver sexual assault attorneys focus on impeaching the accuser’s credibility to show their motivation to lie and unreliability. This may be enough to raise the “reasonable doubt” necessary to persuade prosecutors to drop the charges.1
2. How long do prosecutors have to bring rape charges?
The district attorney can bring Colorado sexual assault charges at any time if the police received a police report within 20 years of the rape and they have DNA evidence of the suspect. There is also no statute of limitations in rapes involving victims 14 years old or younger.
Otherwise, the statute of limitations for sexual assault criminal charges is 20 years after the rape. But if the victim was either age 15, 16, or 17, then the 20-year clock does not begin running until they reach 18 years old.2
3. How bad are the penalties?
Colorado imposes very harsh penalties for rape convictions, which is why our Denver sexual assault lawyers work so hard to try to get the charges lessened to minor offenses or dropped outright.
Sexual assault charge
Colorado criminal sentence
|Sexual assault with no force and no injuries
|Class 4 felony:
|Sexual assault by force or drugging
|Class 3 felony:
|Sexual assault causing serious injury or by gang rape but without a deadly weapon
|Class 2 felony
|Sexual assault causing serious injury or by gang rape and with a deadly weapon
|Class 2 felony
Furthermore, sex assault convictions remain on your criminal record forever. They can never be sealed.3
4. How does Colorado law define rape?
Sexual assault (“rape”) is defined as knowingly inflicting non-consensual sexual penetration.
Non-consensual means that the victim either says or indicates “no” or is unable to consent, such as by being asleep, drunk, high, or otherwise impaired. And penetration comprises:
- vaginal sex,
- oral sex,
- anal sex,
- fingering, or
- penetration with an object
Note that Colorado’s age of consent is 17 years old, which means that anyone 16 and younger cannot legally consent to sex. But Colorado has a Romeo and Juliet exception where minors under 17 can consent to sex if:
- The minor is younger than 15; and you are less than 4 years older; or
- The minor is 15 or 16; and you are less than 10 years older.4
Learn more about Colorado’s statutory rape laws.
5. Why should I hire an attorney?
If you are accused rape in Colorado, you need an experienced Denver sexual assault attorney for two reasons:
- Your chances of a successful outcome are much lower if you rely on a public defender. Public defenders are overworked and under-resourced. They lack the time and tools to thoroughly investigate the case and craft an effective defense. And in practice, prosecutors are less likely to offer good plea deals to public defenders precisely because prosecutors know public defenders will not fight back to the extent that private attorneys will.
- Our Denver sexual assault lawyers conduct our own investigation to find all the evidence that suggests your innocence and undermines the accuser’s story. And we comb through the state’s evidence in search of all the discrepancies and instances of police misconduct. The more “weak links” in the state’s evidence we find, the more leverage we have when negotiating a favorable resolution that keeps you out of custody.
Fighting rape charges is a fight for your life. Our legal team understands the stakes cannot be higher and take every possible measure to maximize the chances of a full dismissal or not guilty verdict.