The age of consent in Colorado is 17 years old. This means that a person 17 years of age or older may consent to have sexual intercourse with any other person, regardless of age. A 17-year-old could choose to engage in sexual intercourse with an 18-year-old, a 30-year-old, or a 90-year-old.
Colorado Age of Consent Laws
Are There Any Exceptions?
There are some exceptions to the legal age of consent in Colorado, such as:
- Close-in-age exemption: A person who is 15 or 16 years old may consent to have sex with someone who is less than 10 years older than them. A person who is 14 years old or younger may consent to have sex with someone who is less than four years older than them.
- Marriage exemption: A person who is married to someone who is below the age of consent may have lawful sex with their spouse as long as they obtain a valid marriage license with parental consent or judicial approval.
Let’s examine some hypothetical scenarios that highlight when these exceptions to the legal age of consent in Colorado might apply or not apply.
- Scenario A (Applicable): Jake is 19 years old, and his girlfriend, Laura, is 16 years old. Even though Laura is below the standard age of consent, the close-in-age exemption applies here because Jake is less than 10 years older than Laura. Hence, their sexual activity would be legal under this exemption.
- Scenario B (Not Applicable): David, 23 years old, is dating Sarah, who is 16 years old. In this case, the close-in-age exemption would not apply. Even though Sarah is 16, David is more than 10 years older than her, making their sexual activity illegal under Colorado’s statutory rape laws.
- Scenario A (Applicable): Sam is 20 years old, and he is legally married to Lily, who is 16 years old. They got married with the consent of Lily’s parents. Because they are married and had obtained a valid marriage license, their sexual relationship is legal, even though Lily is below the age of consent.
- Scenario B (Not Applicable): Mike, who is 22, claims to be in a common-law marriage with Katie, who is 15. However, they did not obtain a valid marriage license or receive parental consent or judicial approval. As such, their sexual relationship is considered illegal under Colorado’s age of consent laws, as the marriage exemption would not apply.
What Are the Penalties for Violating Age of Consent Laws?
The penalties for violating age of consent laws in Colorado depend on the age difference between the offender and the victim and the circumstances of the case. Generally, the penalties are as follows:
- If the offender is at least 10 years older than the victim, who is 15 or 16 years old, the offense is a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by six to 18 months in jail and a fine of up to $5,000.
- If the offender is at least four years older than the victim, who is 14 years old or younger, the offense is a class 4 felony, punishable by two to six years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.
- If the offender is in a position of trust or authority over the victim, who is 18 years old or younger, the offense is a class 3 felony, punishable by four to 12 years in prison and a fine of up to $750,000.
Statutory rape charges can apply if the offender has sex with someone who is below the age of consent, regardless of whether the sex was consensual or not. Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, which means that the offender’s intent, knowledge, or mistake of age are not relevant defenses. The only exceptions are if the offender and the victim are married or if they fall within the close-in-age exemption.
Are There Any Defenses?
Some possible defenses to statutory rape charges in Colorado are:
- Actual innocence: The defendant can argue that they did not commit the crime or that the alleged sexual conduct did not occur.
- Marriage exception: The defendant can argue that they were married to the victim at the time of the sexual conduct and that they obtained a valid marriage license with parental consent or judicial approval.
- Close-in-age exception (Romeo and Juliet law): The defendant can argue that they fall within the close-in-age exemption. This means that they were less than 10 years older than the victim who was 15 or 16 years old or less than four years older than the victim who was 14 years old or younger.
However, some defenses are not available in Colorado, such as:
- Mistake of age: The defendant cannot argue that they did not know or were mistaken about the victim’s age or that the victim lied about their age. Statutory rape is a strict liability crime, which means that the defendant’s intent or knowledge are irrelevant.
- Consent: The defendant cannot argue that the victim consented to the sexual conduct. because a person under the age of consent cannot legally consent. The victim’s consent is immaterial.
Should I Seek Legal Help?
If you find yourself in a situation where the legal age of consent laws in Colorado comes into play, it is absolutely crucial to seek professional legal help. The consequences of misunderstanding or misapplying these laws can be severe, leading to serious criminal charges, not to mention the personal and social repercussions that may follow. LegalMatch, a premier online legal matching service, can connect you with a highly skilled Colorado criminal lawyer who can provide the help you need.
There’s a multitude of reasons why you should consider securing legal representation from a Colorado criminal lawyer via LegalMatch. Perhaps you or a loved one are facing charges related to Colorado’s age of consent laws. Maybe you are involved in a complex situation and need legal advice to ensure you are acting within the law’s bounds. Regardless of your situation, you’ll find that an experienced criminal lawyer can offer invaluable counsel and guidance.
LegalMatch makes it easy to find the right lawyer for your case. All you need to do is provide the details of your case, and within hours, you’ll be matched with potential attorneys who have the experience you need. You’ll then have the opportunity to review their profiles, rates, and reviews before deciding who to hire. This way, you can be confident you’re working with a professional who is best suited to help you navigate your legal journey.
Remember, age of consent laws in Colorado are intricate, and a misunderstanding could result in criminal charges. Even if you believe you are abiding by the law, seeking legal advice can ensure that you avoid potentially catastrophic mistakes. A skilled criminal lawyer can help you understand your rights, formulate a strong defense if necessary, and guide you through the complex legal process.
Don’t gamble with your future. LegalMatch is your gateway to securing reliable legal help in Colorado. With the experience and understanding of a seasoned criminal lawyer at your side, you’ll be better equipped to handle any legal challenges that come your way. Make the right choice for your future, and take the first step today by reaching out to LegalMatch.
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