Statutory rape laws exist to protect vulnerable young adults from sexual predators. Teenagers whose brains are still in the process of developing are more likely to make decisions without fully considering the consequences. While there are some unscrupulous older people take advantage of this, often times younger adults of consenting age unwittingly put themselves in legal jeopardy by engaging in relationships with minors not of legal age to sexually consent.
Colorado has clear laws about the age of sexual consent. Generally, anyone who is age 17 or older can legally engage in sexual acts with someone else who is also 17 or older, with certain exceptions for those with extreme disabilities who are unable to consent.
However, some young adults start experimenting before the age of 17, often with others they know from school or their local community. Is there a “Romeo and Juliet” law that protects the older partner in this kind of situation?
Yes, Colorado has leniency for those close in age
It is not unheard of for a high school freshman to fall in love with a senior and for the two of them to consummate their relationship. It is also not unheard of for a slightly older high school student to fall for their college tutor.
Colorado state law acknowledges these circumstances and offers an exemption for partners close in age. If the younger partner is 15 or 16, intimacy is legal with someone less than 10 years older than them. For those age 14 or younger, sexual contact may not violate the law as long as the partners are less than four years older than they are.
Understanding the age of consent can help you defend against allegations that you committed a crime with a willing romantic partner.