Statutory rape is defined as sexual relations between an adult and a minor. Even if there is mutual consent between the two parties and no force or coercion was involved, a participant under a certain age is considered by law as incapable of granting legal consent. Age of consent varies from state to state, with some setting the age at 16 and others setting it at 17 or 18.
While there are some states that now allow as a defense that there was a belief or a reason to believe a participant was of legal age (such as a minor lying about their age), most states do not. Colorado is does not allow such a defense. Statutory rape carries penalties ranging from fines, probation, mandated treatment services and mandatory prison sentences. In the state of Colorado, a person convicted of statutory rape would have to register as a sex offender.
There are laws that address sexual relationships where both participants are under consenting age. Referred to as “Romeo and Juliet” laws, these laws reduce the punishment down to probation or a fine, or removing the requirement to register as a sex offender.
According to Colorado law, sex between a minor under age 15 and an individual at least four years older, or sex between a minor at least 15 years old but less than 17 and an adult 10 years older constitutes an act of statutory rape. A 15-year-old and and 18-year-old can legally consent to a sexual relationship without committing a felony under Colorado’s “Romeo and Juliet” laws.
Statutory rape is a Class 4 felony in Colorado. If it involved the physical force, violence or threats of violence, impairment of a participant’s judgment or controlling their conduct with the use of drugs, alcohol or other substance without their consent, it is a Class 3 felony. Statutory rape is also a Class 3 felony if the actor was aware the victim was physically helpless and had not consented. If the actor was aided or abetted by another person, was armed with a deadly weapon or inflicted bodily injury onto the victim, it is a Class 2 felony.
If you stand accused of statutory rape in Colorado, refrain from giving a statement until you talk to a qualified Colorado criminal defense attorney. In cases such as these, the burden of proof falls on the prosecuting attorney to establish that sex between the two participants actually occurred. Your Colorado criminal defense attorney will review all of the information pertaining to your case and prepare the best defense for you.