Being arrested for committing a sex crime is one of the most life-changing experiences that anyone can go through.
Even before you begin to deal with the potential legal consequences that you may have to endure if you are convicted of the charge, there is a particular type of personal and public shaming that these types of charges bring with them. Friends and family members may shun you. Your workplace could take action against you. It is even possible that your living situation could be affected.
Then, of course, there are the actual criminal penalties. Depending on the nature of the alleged sex crime in question, you could face years behind bars, exorbitant fines, and – perhaps worst of all – a place on the sex offender registry. Recent changes to laws are relaxing things a bit for convicted offenders, but it’s still not a hardship that you want to have to deal with if you can avoid it.
Bottom line? This is not something that you can afford to take lying down. The consequences of a conviction are far-reaching and destructive. If you are charged, you not only have to fight back, you need to make sure that you put together the strongest possible defense to increase the likelihood that you can get your charges reduced, dismissed, or dropped.
Luckily, there are a number of potential strategies that you may be able to use.
Potentially Successful Defenses against Sex Crime Charges
Here are five defenses that can be used in sex crimes cases to fight back against charges.
Delays in Prosecuting the Case. Each type of case has its own limitations to prosecution in Colorado. For example, if a felony sex offense occurred more than 10 years ago, the statute of limitations has expired, and the individual that allegedly committed the crime cannot be prosecuted today. Misdemeanor sex offenses have a five-year statute of limitations, or an 18-month limit for prosecution of the case to begin, depending on the nature of the case. However, there is no statute of limitations for sex offenses that are committed against children.
If you realize that you are being charged with a crime that is no longer punishable based on the statute of limitations, your lawyer should be able to make a very valid argument for you on this basis. As long as this defense strategy is factual, you can expect all charges against you to be dropped.
Diminished Capacity and Insanity. Many people have probably heard of this defense strategy before. It isn’t something that should be attempted lightly, but if it applies in your case, it can be quite effective as long as your attorney is able to substantiate a claim of diminished capacity or insanity.
There are several Colorado laws that outline the requirements that must be met for a person to be considered insane or suffering from diminished capacity. If you have been charged with a sex crime and you meet these criteria, you should have a very good chance of beating the charges that you are facing.
How can you know if you are eligible for this defense? Colorado law stipulates that “Mental disease or defect” only includes severely abnormal mental conditions that severely impair one’s perception or understanding of reality. This does not include any symptom that may be produced because of intoxication or any other substance that can affect the function of the brain. Your lawyer should be able to provide more insight into the law that governs this defense strategy.
The Mistake-of-Fact Defense. This defense strategy is a bit more complicated to execute. It is used to prove that the defendant believed that consent was given prior to the sexual act. Of course, this defense has to have a lot of supporting evidence for it to work. However, it has been used before, allowing many accused individuals to get a not-guilty verdict or have their charges dismissed.
It is important to note that this defense strategy cannot be used in cases where the victim is a minor (below the age of 15). Both individuals involved must be above the age of consent in order to actually give consent.
Involuntary Intoxication. If you are given a substance without your knowledge that leaves you intoxicated or otherwise inebriated, this can be a winning argument. You should note, however, that if you have a drug addiction problem or you are an alcoholic, this defense strategy may not be very easy to prove. Moreover, voluntary intoxication is not a valid defense at all and should never be attempted.
The Consent Defense. This is a very popular defense argument for sex crime cases. When you use this argument as your defense strategy, the prosecution will be forced to prove that no consent was given and the victim was forced to participate in the act or was otherwise incapacitated.
If you are being accused of a sex crime in Colorado, you need to get in touch with a knowledgeable sex crimes attorney as soon as possible. The more time they have to develop a strategy, the better the outcome is likely to be for you.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.