You most likely have seen it in the news lately; a teen from another state went on a crime spree with his girlfriend. They stole cars and led police on a chase across multiple states. The police eventually caught up with the pair, and the 18-year-old young man is facing multiple charges. But, a charge he didn’t expect was also added – statutory rape. Unbeknownst to him, the girl he thought was the same age turned out to be only 13. Unfortunately, situations like this are becoming more and more common in Denver, Arapahoe, and El Paso County and across the nation. Children are exploring their sexuality at earlier ages, and fake id’s are easy to obtain. Let’s take a look at how a person can be charged here in Colorado.
What is the Age of Consent in Colorado?
Lawmakers recognized the need to change the laws to match our sexualized culture. Thus, they came up with the “age of consent,” otherwise known as the Romeo and Juliet law. The age of consent varies, depending on the circumstances.
- If a child is under the age of 15, they can consent to a sexual relationship if their partner is not more than four years older.
- If a child is 15 or older, they can consent if their partner is not more than 10 years older.
The young man firmly believed his girlfriend was 19. Unfortunately, his ignorance doesn’t help him in court.
What is Statutory Rape in Colorado?
When the ages don’t fit into the age of consent guidelines, however, the older person in the relationship will face sexual offense charges. There are two possible charges:
According to the law, a person can be charged with this offense if the “victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim.” This crime requires sexual penetration.
According to the law, a person can be charged with this offense if the “victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim.” This crime does not require sexual penetration, but can result merely from touching a child’s private areas.
As you can see, these two definitions are very similar. And, regardless of the offense, the consequence of a conviction is an indeterminate prison sentence, sex offender treatment, and registration as a sex offender.
But, I Thought She Was Older? Why it Doesn’t Always Matter
The young man who went on a crime spree with his girlfriend is adamant that he didn’t know she was only 13 years old. He says she told him she owned a truck and had a license. They went out for three months before embarking on their journey of crime, and he was unaware of her age. His family backs up his story; the young man’s sister once went with the couple to a convenience store. The girlfriend was able to purchase cigarettes, which further backed up their belief that she as 19. Unfortunately, the fact the young man didn’t know how old his girlfriend was doesn’t matter in court. This is because she was so young. There is a defense for ignorance about age (C.R.S. 18-1-503.5), but it only applies when the alleged victim is at least fifteen:
“If the criminality of conduct depends on a child being younger than eighteen years of age and the child was in fact at least fifteen years of age, it shall be an affirmative defense that the defendant reasonably believed the child to be 18 years of age or older.”
The statute goes on, specifically targeting anyone under the age StatutorStatuof 15 years old.
“If the criminality of the conduct depends on a child’s being younger than eighteen years of age and the child was in fact younger than fifteen years of age, there shall be no defense that the defendant reasonably believed the child was eighteen years of age or older.”
As you can see, the fact that the young man didn’t know how old his girlfriend was has no effect on his situation. Even though the relationship was completely mutual, he is the one who will face life-long consequences of Sexual Assault – not the young woman who lied about her age.
Why You Need a Lawyer for Statutory Rape Charges
The laws simply haven’t completely caught up yet.
Today’s culture is saturated with sexual innuendos and sexual situations. Girls are encouraged to be sexual at younger ages than ever before. The laws simply haven’t completely caught up yet. The young woman who lied about her age should be held responsible – after all, she had a fake ID and lied repeatedly to her boyfriend and his family. But instead, she will be treated like a victim while her boyfriend goes to prison. This is unjust. This is why you need an aggressive criminal defense lawyer fighting on your behalf if you’ve been charged with statutory rape. Don’t stand alone in court and let the judge and jury convict you as a sex offender. Instead, contact one of our hard-hitting lawyers to be your advocate in court and protect your future.