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Taking a Closer Look at Unlawful Sexual Contact Laws

Like other states, Colorado treats sex crimes very seriously. It is not necessary to have allegedly committed a sex assault to be charged with this category of crime. Under certain circumstances, sexual contact is also a prosecutable offense. If you’ve been charged with this offense or you think you may be under investigation for sex crimes near Denver, it’s imperative to protect your legal rights by contacting a lawyer right away.

Definition of Unlawful Sexual Contact

Unlawful sexual contact is a sex crime that does not involve penetration, but is still sexual in nature. This is a broad criminal charge that 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. 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 the Crime

A prosecutor must provide evidence to prove certain elements of unlawful sexual contact. The prosecutor must prove only one of the following elements:

  • The accused knew the victim did not consent.
  • The accused knew the victim was incapable of consenting due to physical helplessness.
  • The accused knew the victim was incapable of understanding the nature of the action.
  • The accused significantly impaired the victim’s ability to understand the action or consent to it through the use of drugs, intoxicants, or any other means.
  • The accused purported to examine or treat the victim in a way that deviates from accepted medical practices.
  • The victim was a detainee in custody or at an institution and the accused held authority over the victim and used this authority to coerce sexual contact.

Gravity of the Offense

Unlawful sexual contact is usually prosecuted as a class one misdemeanor. However, it is prosecuted as a class four felony if the accused compelled the victim’s submission by force, threat, or intimidation. A defendant convicted of a class one misdemeanor faces up to two years in jail and fines between $500 and $5,000. A class four felony conviction can result in four to 12 years in prison and fines between $2,000 and $500,000.

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