The National Trial Lawyers

What Qualifies as Unlawful Sexual Contact?

Although groping has a reputation for being a “lesser” offense than rape, it’s still sexual assault. Under Colorado law, it’s legally known as unlawful sexual contact. Sexual assault charges in Denver, CO are divided into two broad categories, based on whether penetration occurred or not. Factors that are unique to each case may elevate the charge to an aggravated sexual assault charge.

Legal Definition of Unlawful Sexual Contact

Unlawful sexual contact is defined as the intentional touching of the victim’s intimate body parts. This includes touching the clothing over the intimate areas, assuming that this act was done for the purpose of sexual abuse, arousal, or gratification. This type of sexual assault charge also includes the act of forcibly causing the victim to make contact with the defendant’s intimate body parts.

Applicable Factors of the Case

A suspect may be charged with this crime if the act fits the legal definition and any of the following factors apply:

  • The victim is incapable of understanding the act
  • The victim doesn’t consent to the act
  • The victim can’t consent (unconsciousness)
  • The victim is an inmate, the defendant holds authority over the victim, and the defendant forces coercion

The act can also be charged as sexual assault if any of these factors apply to the defendant:

  • The defendant pretends to perform a medical exam or treatment, while actually committing sexual assault
  • The defendant impairs the victim with date rape drugs
  • The defendant coerces a victim under 18 years of age to participate in a sexual act or expose intimate body parts

Potential Penalties for Convicted Sex Offenders

Depending on the circumstances of the case, the offense may be prosecuted as a class one misdemeanor. This charge is considered to involve extraordinary risks, and so an individual convicted of it can be subject to harsher penalties. A sex lawyer will prepare a defense for a class four felony case if the defendant is accused of coercing a child, pretending to perform a medical exam, or using threats, intimidation, or force. A class four felony conviction can result in four to 12 years in prison, three years of mandatory parole, and fines of $2,000 to $500,000.

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