If You Are A Victim Of Sexual Assault, We Are Here For You
Sexual assault is an incredibly personal and devastating form of violence. Sadly, in the United States, about one in five women will experience attempted or completed rape at some point during their lifetime, as will approximately one in 38 men.
What Is Sexual Assault?
Sexual assault is a crime that occurs when someone is subjected to penetrative sex without their consent. Most states now use the term sexual assault instead of “rape,” which traditionally refers to forced intercourse by a male upon a female through physical violence or threats. Although the words are still used interchangeably, “sexual assault” reflects the reality that people of any gender can be victims of sex without their consent, and the assault does not have to involve physical violence. Sex with someone who is too drunk, lacks understanding or is otherwise incapable of consent is also sexual assault. The Colorado statute defining sexual assault is C.R.S. § 18-3-402. Sexual assault is almost always a felony in Colorado, punishable by two years to life in prison.
Unlawful sexual contact is a crime that occurs when someone is subjected to other kinds of sexual contact without their consent, such as groping. Colorado’s statute defining unlawful sexual contact can be found at C.R.S. § 18-3-404. Unlawful sexual contact can be a felony or a misdemeanor, depending on the severity and circumstances.
What Is The Statute Of Limitations For Sexual Assault?
Colorado recently revised its statutes of limitations for sexual assault to acknowledge the reality that sexual assault victims often need many years to feel safe enough to bring a charge against their assailant. Victims often face feelings of shame, fear of retaliation or outside pressure to keep the assault quiet, all of which can take years to overcome. In addition, most sexual assault victims (70%) know their assailant at least casually. It takes courage to bring a charge against someone you know.
It is important to realize that there are two types of legal action that are available to victims: criminal and civil. The criminal penalties for sexual assault and abuse involve jail time and registration as a sex offender. Civil penalties involve monetary compensation to the victim.
Current Colorado statutes of limitations for sexual assault charges are as follows:
- For criminal charges of sexual assault as well as attempted rape, conspiracy to commit rape and solicitation to commit rape: Prosecutors may bring a case within 20 years of the attack. However, if the assault was reported to police within 20 years of the incident and there is DNA evidence of the suspect, there is no statute of limitations. If the victim was 14 years old or younger, prosecutors may also bring charges at any time.
- For civil charges of sexual assault: The statute of limitations has recently changed. For civil claims that were still within the statute of limitations as of January 1, 2022, the statute of limitations is now removed. For sexual misconduct, including but not limited to sexual assault, occurring on January 1, 2022, or later, there is no longer a statute of limitations. See C.R.S § 13-80-103.7.
- For civil charges of sexual abuse of children: The Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act (SB21-088) was passed on January 1, 2022. It provides a three-year window for people who suffered sexual abuse as children in Colorado from January 1, 1960, to December 31, 2024, to bring legal action. Survivors may bring civil claims against perpetrators and institutions such as youth organizations if the assault occurred while the victim was a participant in a youth-related activity or program and the organization either knew or should have known of the risks against minors. Legal action must commence before January 1, 2025.
What About Adult Victims Of Sexual Assault?
Adult victims may also bring civil claims against institutions that failed to provide reasonable safeguards against sexual assault. Types of institutions that can be held liable in sexual assault cases include:
- Nursing homes
- Health care facilities
- Apartment complexes
- Massage spas
If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to seek help. You can recover. With our help, you likely will.
Resources For Sexual Assault Victims
- The National Sexual Assault Hotline or call 80-656-HOPE (4673).
- The Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault or call 303-839-9999.
Both sites provide excellent resources to help victims find medical support, emotional healing and legal justice.
Are You A Victim Of Sexual Assault? Contact Us Today.
Sexual abuse is so prevalent in our society that one could say it is endemic. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. At Shafner Injury Law, we are Denver attorneys who understand that people who would march in the street for others are sometimes reluctant to seek justice for themselves. We understand the courage and inner strength that it takes for victims to come forward. When necessary, we will file lawsuits in these cases and take them to trial so that our clients can recover the compensation they deserve.
For a free consultation with an experienced lawyer, call Shafner Injury Law at 720-800-4715 or fill out our online form.