Colorado's Romeo and Juliet laws protect teenagers who choose to have intercourse and oral sex with peers. Minors under the age of 17 can legally consent to sex within specific age parameters. However, when consensual behaviors occur outside these age guidelines, the older person can face charges of statutory rape or sexual assault on a child. Time in jail or prison, heavy fines, and sex offender registration can result in many cases. Contact an experienced sex crimes attorney right away if you're facing an allegation of unlawful sex with a minor.
Colorado Teens and the Age of Consent
Understanding close-in-age exceptions is especially important for late teens and those in their twenties. Specific parameters exist for young people 14 or younger and teens who are 15 or 16 years of age:
- children 14 or younger can consent to penetrative sex with peers less than 4 years older,
- teens age 15 or 16 can consent to penetrative sex with those less than 10 years older
When teenagers reach the age of 17 in Denver, Lakewood, or Aurora, they are legally able to consent to intercourse with older individuals. The only exception to this is when the other person is in a position of trust to the teenager. Sexual behavior between someone under 18 and their youth pastor, coach, teacher, or school employee is unlawful throughout Colorado.
Sentencing for Statutory Rape in Colorado
When the exceptions above don't apply, those who have vaginal, oral, or anal sex with someone under 17 are often charged with rape. Consent or a juvenile instigating the behaviors are irrelevant when the difference in age is too much. A class 1 misdemeanor extraordinary risk crime applies to those who have sex with a 15 or 16 year old and are 10 or more years older than the teen. Conviction can result in:
- up to 2 years in county jail,
- fines of up to $5k
However, when the juvenile is under 15 and the defendant is 4 or more years older than the juvenile, sex is a class 4 felony. Up to 8 years in DOC, a minimum fine of $2k, and sex offender registration can apply at sentencing.
Denver Statutory Rape Attorney
Securing an experienced sex crimes attorney is crucial when facing violations outside Colorado's Romeo and Juliet laws. Sex offense sentencing is brutal in Colorado and can negatively impact your life for a very long time. The attorneys at Sawyer Legal Group are prepared to fight these serious allegations and strive for the best possible outcome for each of our clients. Perhaps no sex occurred or the alleged victim is lying about what took place. That said, contact our office for a free initial consultation. We offer same-day jail visits, affordable fees, and flexible payment plans to make aggressive representation a reality in these uncertain times.
If you or someone you know is facing a rape charge in Colorado, be smart. Contact the determined criminal lawyers at Sawyer Legal Group, LLC at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your future.
Photo by Elijah O'Donnell