In Colorado, sexual assault charges and unlawful sexual contact are not the same. These charges also carry different penalties. If you have been charged with either, you should know the difference between the two.
Sexual assault is defined as penetration of any object into a person's vagina or anal opening for the purpose of pleasure or abuse without permission. This also includes penetration when a victim is unaware of what is going on or believes you to be someone else such as their spouse or partner. If the victim is 14 years old and the perpetrator is not their spouse, or the victim is 15 or 16 years old and the perpetrator is at least 10 years older, penetration can be considered sexual assault even with consent.
Unlawful sexual contact is inappropriate touching of a person's intimate and private parts while they are unaware or do not give permission to do so. The contact must be knowingly performed by the perpetrator and can be through clothing as well as touching bare flesh. If the victim is asleep, unconscious, under authority such as in prison or jail, or coerced into allowing someone to touch them, the perpetrator can face charges. Using date rape or other drugs before sexual contact or intercourse can give your alleged victim a basis for accusing you of sexual misconduct. This could happen even if the person consented at the time. A spouse can also file sexual assault charges, as being married does not give a person a right to rape another.
Sexual assault and unlawful sexual contact offenses carry penalties based on the severity of the crime. If you have been charged with either, talk with a legal attorney about the different types of penalties you could be facing.
Source: FindLaw, "Colorado Rape and Sexual Assault Laws," accessed Dec. 29, 2015