Return to Denver Sexual Assault / Sexual Contact Attorney – Questions and Answers on Sexual Offenders, Sexual Offenses and Sex Crimes Laws

Statutory Rape, the Age of Consent, and Romeo + Juliet Laws in Denver

Colorado’s laws regarding Rape and Sexual Assault are complex, and the consequences of a conviction in Denver, Jefferson, and Adams County are harsh and life-changing. We’ll explain the definition of Statutory Rape, the Romeo and Juliet laws, and the age of consent in Colorado. If you are concerned someone may accuse you of a sex offense, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney who has helped many people just like you in their sexual offense cases.

What is Statutory Rape?

The term “statutory rape” is not a term used in courts in Douglas, Larimer, and Arapahoe County. Instead, “unlawful sexual contact,” “rape,” and “sexual assault” are used. According to Colorado statute 18-3-402, sexual assault occurs when someone inflicts sexual intrusion or penetration on an alleged victim when the victim is less than “fifteen years of age” and the defendant is at least four years older and is not the spouse of the alleged victim. It is also charged when the alleged victim is “at least fifteen years of age but less than seventeen” and the defendant is “at least ten years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim.” (There are other definitions and circumstances;  

“Statutory rape” is not a term which is used. Instead, “sexual assault,” “rape,” and “unlawful sexual contact” are used. 

these are specific to our description of statutory rape. For a more complete overview, read our Sexual Assault / Rape page.) To put it simply, a person will be charged with statutory rape if they have sex with:

  • Someone who is younger than fifteen, when they themselves are at least four years older.
  • Someone who is between the ages of fifteen and seventeen, when they themselves are at least ten years older.

The law doesn’t take into account whether or not the relationship was mutual. Let’s say a 16-year-old boy falls for a 27-year-old woman. Or, a 14-year-old girl starts going out with an 18 and a half year old. These relationships would be illegal. The older parties in these situations could charged with Sexual Assault or Sexual Assault on a Child – C.R.S. 18-3-405 and go to prison for the rest of their lives because of Colorado’s indeterminate sentencing laws.

 “Romeo and Juliet” Exceptions and Laws:

Because 18-year-olds were being sent to prison for their relationships with younger high school classmates, lawmakers recognized the need to differentiate between “young love” and harmful sexual relationships. This is how the “Romeo and Juliet” exceptions came about. A 16-year-old is able to consent to a sexual relationship with someone older than 18 if they are less than 10 years older; for example, a 21-year-old. Also, any child under the age of 15 is allowed to have a sexual relationship with someone older if they are not more than 4 years older; for example, a 17-year-old.

What is Colorado’s Age of Consent?

Because of the Romeo and Juliet laws, the age of consent is often difficult to determine. Generally, the age of consent is considered to be 17. As stated above, however – if a child is 16, they are able to consent to a sexual relationship with someone older if that person is no more than 10 years older. Or, if a child is under the age of 15, they are able to consent to a sexual relationship with someone older if that person is no more than 4 years older.

Why You Need an Experienced Criminal Lawyer for Statutory Rape Accusations

If you have been charged with Statutory Rape (Sexual Assault / Rape), contact one of our experienced criminal defense attorneys immediately. Sexual Assault laws are complex and the consequences of a conviction are enormous. If you are convicted of statutory rape, you will be sentenced for an indeterminate amount of time, be required to undergo harsh sex offender treatment overseen by the Sex Offender Management Board (SOMB), and register as a sex offender upon your release. These kinds of consequences will have a negative effect on your future. Don’t put your life in the hands of an inexperienced public defender or an overworked lawyer who practices bankruptcy, divorce, and civil law as well as criminal defense. We have years of experience fighting for clients accused of sex crimes in Highlands Ranch, Greenwood Village, and Lone Tree.

If you or a loved one has been accused of statutory rape or sexual assault, be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at the O’Malley Law Office at 303-830-0880, or submit the “Get Help Now” form. Together, we can protect your future.