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Taking a Closer Look at Unlawful Sexual Contact Laws in Colorado

Like many other states, Colorado treats sex crimes very seriously, and this includes cases of unlawful sexual contact. While many people equate sex crimes with sexual assault, Colorado law draws a distinction between sexual assault and sexual contact. In this comprehensive guide, we will answer the question “what does unlawful sexual contact mean” and explain the gravity of this offense to help you understand the nuances of the law and protect your rights if you are facing charges in this category.

Unwanted Sexual Contact vs. Sexual Assault: What’s the Difference?

Unlawful sexual contact is a sex crime distinct from sexual assault. Unlike sexual assault, which involves penetration, unlawful sexual contact pertains to sexual acts that do not include penetration but are nonetheless sexual in nature.
This broad criminal charge may involve allegations of the actor forcing the victim to touch the actor’s genital region or vice versa, regardless of whether clothing was worn by either person. Unlawful sexual contact can also involve the taking of a photograph of another person’s intimate region without the victim’s consent and in a situation in which the victim has reason to expect privacy. Furthermore, it is unlawful for any actor to coerce a child to expose the child’s intimate region.

Elements of an Unlawful Sexual Contact Crime in Colorado

To secure a conviction for unlawful sexual contact colorado, a prosecutor must establish certain key elements of the offense. The prosecutor is required to prove at least one of the following elements:

  • The accused knew that the victim did not provide consent.
  • The accused was aware that the victim was physically helpless, rendering them incapable of giving consent.
  • The accused knew that the victim was unable to comprehend the nature of the sexual action.
  • The accused significantly impaired the victim’s ability to understand the action or consent by using drugs, intoxicants, or any other means.
  • The accused significantly impaired the victim’s ability to understand the action or consent by using drugs, intoxicants, or any other means.
  • The victim was a detainee in custody or at an institution, and the accused exploited their authority to coerce sexual contact.

Degrees of Unlawful Sexual Contact

Unlawful sexual contact is typically prosecuted as a class one misdemeanor of extraordinary risk. A defendant convicted of a class one misdemeanor can face 6-24 months in prison and fines between $500 and $5,000.
However, Colorado law recognizes various degrees of unlawful sexual contact, with penalties that escalate based on the severity of the offense. For example, unlawful sexual contact becomes a class 4 felony if the accused compelled the victim’s submission by force, threat, or intimidation. A class four felony conviction can result in 4-12 years in prison and fines between $2,000 and $500,000.

Another circumstance that may result in increased charges is unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. To learn more about how this factor may impact your case, reach out to MBS Law for a consultation.

Consequences of an Unlawful Sexual Contact Charge: Colorado Sex Offender Registry

One of the gravest consequences of an unlawful sexual contact charge is the requirement to register as a sex offender in the Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s sex offender registry. Registration requires you to provide personal information and may involve adhering to residency restrictions and facing social stigmatization. Note that failure to register as a sex offender in Colorado after this conviction is a class 6 felony, which will result in additional penalties (fines and/or jail time).
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may petition the court not to add you to the registry. Some potential mitigating factors include:
  • You were younger than 18 when the act in question occurred.
  • You have not faced unlawful sexual behavior charges in the past.
  • This was your first offense.
If you do register, you can petition the court for removal from the registry after 10 years, provided you do not commit any additional sex crimes.

Why You Should Hire a Lawyer for Your Unlawful Sexual Contact Case

If you’re facing charges of unlawful sexual contact in Colorado, securing legal representation is not just an option, it’s a necessity. Here’s why:
  • Complex Legal Terrain: Colorado’s sex crime laws are complex and multifaceted. Navigating this legal landscape requires the expertise of a defense attorney who understands the nuances of these statutes and can build a strategic defense tailored to your unique case.
  • Protecting Your Rights: The MBS legal team will ensure that your rights are protected throughout the legal process. We will thoroughly examine the evidence against you, investigate potential rights violations, and challenge any unlawfully obtained evidence.
  • Minimizing Consequences: At MBS Law, our primary goal is to minimize the consequences you may face from a given charge. We can negotiate with the prosecution to potentially reduce charges or penalties, helping you achieve the best possible outcome.
  • Sex Offender Registry Mitigation: In cases where sex offender registration is a possibility, an experienced attorney can work to mitigate this consequence or explore avenues for removal from the registry in the future.

Understanding the nuances of Colorado’s unlawful sexual contact laws is essential, especially if you’re facing charges related to this offense. Given the potential consequences, we urge you to secure legal representation as soon as possible. With the right attorney by your side, you can navigate the complex legal landscape effectively, protect your rights, and work toward the best possible resolution for your case. Contact MBS Law today to get started.

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