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Colorado Criminal Defense Blog

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In Colorado, sex crimes are very serious. That’s why if you get charged with one, it’s something you should take very seriously – no matter if it’s a misdemeanor or a felony charge.

Some sex crimes in the state get charged as misdemeanors. Others get charged with felonies. The level at which a sex crime gets charged impacts the types of penalties you can face if you are found guilty of the crime. Here’s what you need to know about the difference between a misdemeanor and felony sex crimes in Colorado and what they can mean for your future.

Misdemeanor Sex Crimes in Colorado

Several sex crimes can be prosecuted as misdemeanors in Colorado, but these two are the most common misdemeanor sex crimes:

Indecent Exposure

When you expose your sex organs to others to satisfy your sexual desire or arousal, and it offends or alarms them – such as masturbating in public – it is a sex crime. Of course, this type of crime can cover many different actions, including having sex with a partner in a public place, such as in your car.

Unlawful Sexual Contact

If you touch someone’s private parts without their consent or do so while incapacitated, it’s often charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor. If certain aggravating factors are present, then you can face felony charges.

Sex crimes charged as misdemeanors will be charged at the highest degree possible for a misdemeanor in the state. You can go to jail for up to two years and be forced to pay thousands of dollars in fines if convicted. You can also be required to register as a sex offender for some misdemeanor sex crimes for a minimum of 10 years. So, while misdemeanor sex crimes in the state carry determinate sentences, that doesn’t mean they’re not serious and can endanger your future.

Felony Sex Crimes

In Colorado, there are several felony sex crimes someone can get charged with. The most common criminal acts charged as a felony are:

Human Trafficking

When a person traffics another for sexual activity in the state, it’s a Class 2 felony if minors are involved and a Class 3 felony if adults are involved. Even if the perpetrator didn’t know a victim was a minor, they could still be prosecuted for a Class 2 felony.

Child Prostitution

Child prostitution gets prosecuted as a Class 2 or 3 felonies. Class 3 felonies are typically charged in cases involving child pandering, procuring a child for prostitution, engaging in sexual acts with a prostitute who is a child, or maintaining a place of child prostitution. A Class 2 felony is typically charged when a person uses intimidation or threats to get a child to commit acts of prostitution.

Sexual Assault

If you sexually penetrate another person without their consent, you may be charged with a felony in Colorado. The circumstances of the case will dictate whether you get charged with Class 2, 3, or 4 felonies under the law.

Unlawful Sexual Contact

Denver Se Crimes Defense

This crime is typically a Class 4 felony if:

  • A person coerces an underage victim to expose their private parts
  • They engage in penetration or sexual contact with a minor
  • They use date rape drugs
  • They have sexual contact with someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated
  • They have sexual contact with someone who is incarcerated

Felony sex convictions will include prison sentences, fines, and registration as a sex offender.


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 & 2019-2022” and a “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2022 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state.  Additionally, Expertise names her to its lists of the 25 Best Denver DUI Lawyers and 21 Best Denver Criminal Defense Lawyers, both in 2020-2022. Ms. Diego has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.

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