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.
This child molestation 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, this sexual child abuse crime is punishable by two years in prison under Colorado criminal law. And if you possess a deadly weapon during the 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 CRS 18-3-405.3, sex assault on a child by one in a position of trust, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:
- 1. What is “sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust”?
- 2. What does it mean to be “in a position of trust”?
- 3. What are the penalties?
- 4. How can a person fight the charges?
- 5. How we go about proving your innocence
- 6. Related offenses
Although this crime is called “sexual assault,” the term is misleading. Sex assault on a child is the underage equivalent of CRS 18-3-404 Colorado’s sexual contact law.
Sex 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 CRS 18-3-402 — Colorado’s sexual assault law.
Sexual contact (and therefore, sex assault on a minor), 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 minor, or
- you cause the minor to touch you.
To commit sex assault on a minor, it is not necessary that either person be naked. Touching through clothing is sufficient if the purpose is sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse.1
Also see our article on Colorado child molestation laws.
Under Colorado law, you occupy a position of trust with respect to a minor whenever you are responsible, in any way and for any amount of time, for the child’s:
- welfare, or
Specifically, CRS 18-3-401(3.5) 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 minor, including a guardian or someone otherwise responsible for the general supervision of a minor’s welfare, or a person who is charged with any duty or responsibility for the health, education, welfare, or supervision of a minor, 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.
Examples may include the child’s doctor, psychotherapist, teacher, tutor, or babysitter.
Note that unlike CRS 18-3-405 – Colorado’s regular sex assault on a child law – sex assault on a minor by one in a position of trust applies to all children under 18 years of age, regardless of the difference in age between the minor and the person accused.2
Sex assault on a minor by one in a position of trust is usually a Colorado class 4 felony when the minor is 15, 16 or 17 years old. Under this circumstance, consequences of this type of child sexual abuse include:
- 2-6 years in prison, and/or
- A fine of $2,000-$500,000.
Sex assault on a minor by one in a position of trust increases to a Colorado class 3 felony, however, if:
- The minor 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 sex assault on a minor 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 sexual exploitation occurred.3
Sex assault on a minor 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 minor was 15, 16 or 17, or,
- 8 years if the minor 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.4
A conviction on charges of sexually assaulting a minor 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-$100,000.5
There are many defenses to criminal charges of sex assault on a minor by one in a position of trust. Among the most common under state law are:
- You didn’t touch the minor.
- The minor 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,
- You didn’t occupy a position of trust with respect to the minor, or
- Law enforcement committed misconduct
Our caring Colorado sex crimes lawyers know that innocent people are often accused of unlawful sexual contact with a minor. 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 sex offenses. 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.”
6.1. Sexual exploitation of a child
Sexual exploitation of a child (CRS 18-6-403) is Colorado’s child pornography crime. People who possess, produce, or distribute sexually explicit material of children under 18 for the purpose of sexual gratification face felony charges.
6.2. Internet luring of a child
Internet luring of a child (CRS 18-3-306) is electronically communicating sexual content to a child and then trying to meet the child if the child is under 15, and the person is at least four years older. This crime is a felony.
6.3. Enticement of a child
Enticement of a child (CRS 18-3-305) is inviting or luring a child under 15 into any building, room, vehicle, or secluded space to commit rape or sexual contact. This crime is a felony.
6.4. Pimping of a child
Pimping of a child (CRS 18-7-405) is knowingly living off the earnings of a child prostitute. This offense is a felony.
6.5. Public indecency
Our law firm represents clients accused of sex crimes in Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, Douglas County, Arapahoe, Jefferson County, Thornton, Pueblo, Arvada, Westminster, Centennial and elsewhere throughout Colorado.