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Understanding the changes to Colorado’s sexual assault law

On Behalf of | Sep 26, 2022 | Sex Crimes |

Earlier this year, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed a bill that changes the definition of sexual assault under the law. The legislation, which had strong bipartisan support among the state’s lawmakers, brings Colorado in line with the majority of states.

The primary word that lawmakers believed was lacking in the law was “consent.” While that word is closely associated with sex crimes today, it wasn’t back in the 1970s, when the law was written. 

How the language in the law changed

Prior to the change, which became effective in July, Colorado law defined sexual assault as “sexual intrusion” when “the actor causes submission of the victim by means sufficient to cause submission against the victim’s will.” The law now defines it as sexual intrusion “knowing the victim does not consent.”

Interestingly, Colorado law did already define consent for sexual activity as requiring free will and understanding of the act. It also specifies that just having a relationship with someone doesn’t imply consent, nor does giving in to someone out of fear. The definition remains but is much more relevant under the amended law. 

“Clarity around consent”

The lawmakers behind the legislation explained that they wanted to make the law clearer for everyone, including victims and jurors considering sexual assault cases. One noted that the prior language was confusing. She said, “These are very difficult cases and having clarity around consent is imperative for moving forward in our state.”

Sexual assault charges can be very complicated to fight. It’s often a matter of one person’s word against the other’s. A conviction can have significant and lasting consequences in virtually every part of your life. That’s why if you have been charged with sexual assault or any other type of sex-related crime, it’s crucial that you have sound legal guidance to protect your rights and your future. 

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