Colorado child molestation laws make it a serious sex crime to touch children in a sexual way. Most molestation crimes are felonies or extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanors with substantial jail or prison sentences. And the convicted defendant will be required to be on the Sex Offender Registry.
Below our Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What are Colorado’s child molestation crimes?
- 2. What is the statute of limitations?
- 3. What is the best defense to criminal charges?
1. What are Colorado’s child molestation crimes?
The table below summarizes the definition of and punishment for the state’s four main child molestation crimes:
Child Molestation Crime
(in addition to Colorado sex offender registration)
|Unlawful Sexual Contact (CRS 18-3-404) |
|Extraordinary risk class 4 felony, if the victim is compelled to submit to sexual contact by drugging, force, intimidation, or threats: |
Otherwise, an extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanor:
|Sexual Assault on a Child (CRS 18-3-405) ||Class 3 felony, if the defendant used force or threats of pain, serious bodily injury, or kidnapping, or if the assault was part of a pattern of child abuse: |
Otherwise, a class 4 felony:
|Sex Assault on a Child by One in a Position of Trust (CRS 18-3-405.3) ||Class 3 felony, if the minor was under 15, or the offense was part of a pattern of sexual abuse: |
Otherwise, a class 4 felony:
|Internet Exploitation of a Child (CRS 18-3-405.4) ||Class 4 felony: |
2. What is the statute of limitations?
There is no statute of limitations for most felony child sexual abuse crimes, including for related offenses such as sexual exploitation of a child under 18 – child pornography (CRS 18-6-403) and enticement of a child under 15 (CRS 18-3-305). This means prosecutors can press criminal case charges at any time.
Note that there is a time limit to bring criminal charges in felony unlawful sexual contact cases when the victim is 15 or older:
- 10 years after the incident, or
- 10 years after the victim reaches 18 years old
And there is always a statute of limitations to bring misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact criminal charges:
- 5 years after the incident if the victim is 15 or older;
- 8.5 years after the incident if the victim is under 15.1
3. What is the best defense to criminal charges?
There are various defenses that may get child sex charges reduced or dismissed. The most common one is that the defendant was falsely accused, and that nothing the defendant did crossed the line.
Criminal defense attorneys would compile all the available evidence – such as written communications, surveillance video, medical records, and expert testimony – to cast doubt on the prosecution’s case. And it may be possible to impeach the credibility of the accuser(s) to show their motivation to lie. Children in particular are prone to fabricating falsehoods.
Note that it not a defense that the child consented to any sexual activity. Colorado’s age of consent is 17 years old, but there is a Romeo & Juliet “close-in-age” exception in statutory rape cases: 15- and 16-year-olds may consent to sex with a person less than 10 years older. And children under 15 may consent to sex with a person less than 4 years older.2
Our Colorado criminal law office is based in Denver, but we create attorney-client relationships throughout the state, including Boulder and El Paso. Our Colorado law firm defends against all types of criminal charges under federal and state law.
In California? See our article on California child molestation laws.
In Nevada? See our article on Nevada child molestation laws.
- Colorado Revised Statute 16-5-401.
- CRS 18-3-402; see also People v. Simon, 266 P.3d 1099 (Colo. 2011).