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Colorado Age of Consent Laws

Written By: Thomas Weber

A sexual assault charge is a tough thing to face. Any person convicted of sex crimes

in the US is practically branded with a scarlet letter. Sex offender registration and the unforgiving stigma associated with sexual assault see to that. To protect one’s self from becoming an alleged perpetrator, it’s wise to wield a firm understanding of how consent in Colorado works.

Dictionaries define consent as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something”. Colorado law defines it another way. Colorado’s age of consent is 17, but important stipulations are in tow. Colorado’s statutory rape laws contain many exemptions. Acting on the wrong side of them can result in criminal charges, and conviction often means years in prison. 

If you or a loved one is alleged to have violated one of Colorado’s age of consent laws, you want to lawyer up immediately. You can contact your Denver criminal defense attorney to learn more about your legal options to defend yourself.  There is no fee for initial consultations. Contact us today to learn more. 

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Colorado Consent Laws

Like in other states, age difference plays a role in how criminal sexual charges hinge upon accusations of having had sexual contact with a minor. The main pieces of Colorado State legislation on the age of consent are built to protect an underage person from sexual predators and the unwanted consequences of intercourse. Such known consequences are:

  • Pregnancy
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Social stigmas surrounding premature sexual activity
  • Sexual abuse and more

Children cannot comprehensively grasp the scope of the consequences of sexual intercourse. The essence of Colorado statutory rape laws is to provide a safety net for those less than seventeen years of age. Any person less than fifteen years old engaging in sexual acts with someone older than four years their senior could be in commission of a class 4 felony.

Colorado Consensual Sex Definition

Sexual consent in Colorado is defined as “cooperation in act or attitude pursuant to an exercise of free will and with knowledge of the nature of the act.” Anyone younger cannot legally consent to a sexual encounter unless they’ve reached this age. While some special exceptions exist, the idea is to protect children until they mature enough to develop skills to protect themselves.

Colorado Sexual Intercourse

In Colorado, sexual intercourse refers to consensual sexual penetration or contact between individuals involving the insertion of a penis into a vagina, mouth, or even anus. It typically implies engaging in sexual activity that involves penetration. However, it’s important to note that Colorado law encompasses a broader range of sexual activities and offenses within this.

Various sexual acts and sexual contact or conduct beyond traditional intercourse are included in the laws that define and address different types of sexual offenses. For precise details and legal implications, consulting the Colorado state statutes or seeking professional legal advice is strongly advised. 

Colorado Sexual Assault

CRS 18-3-403 states the definition of sexual assault, forcible rape, and statutory rape in Colorado as sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim without consent. Consent in Colorado The statute, CRS 18-3-402,  states that “any actor who knowingly inflicts sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim commits sexual assault.” 

Sexual intercourse with anyone who is not old enough to legally consent constitutes statutory rape. Whether or not the underage person wanted to engage in the sexual act is a moot point. 

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Sexual assault on a minor is charged as a class 4 or class 3 felony. Despite the legal age of consent, child prostitution laws in Colorado are for those 18 or younger. 

Observe that sex crimes are often associated with the use of physical violence causing serious bodily injury or the use of a deadly weapon. With criminal sexual conduct related to the age of consent, these scenarios are often less of a factor. Many of these charges can involve an element of youthful innocence, but ignorance of the law is no excuse. It’s still criminal conduct. 


Legally married individuals can consent to sexual intercourse with one another. Colorado doesn’t grant common law marriage when one partner is less than 18. You must be 18 or older to marry in Colorado except when: 

  • A 16-year-old has the consent of both parents or the legal guardian
  • A judge approves a person under the age of 16 who wishes to be married, along with the consent of both parents or the legal guardian.
  • If a person under the age of consent is legally married, even when the age difference is above 10 years, that person can legally consent to have sex with his or her spouse.

FAQs on Colorado Consent Laws

Due to consent law in Colorado covering a wide range of circumstances, there is a wide range of questions to be answered. Criminal sexual conduct against minors starts as a class 4 felony, punishable by two to six years in prison. 

Is it Illegal for an 18-Year-Old to Date a 14-Year-Old in Colorado?

It isn’t illegal for an 18-year-old to merely date a 14-year-old in Colorado. However, Colorado’s Romeo and Juliet Law has a close in age exemption stating that when an alleged victim is less than 15 years old, an age difference of four years is acceptable. Thus, two persons of these ages engaging in sexual relations constitutes statutory rape. 

What is the Legal Age of Adulthood in Colorado?

In Colorado, individuals are considered adults when they reach the age of 18. At this age, they gain various rights and responsibilities, including the ability to vote, serve on a jury, and sign legal contracts. Additionally, individuals who are 18 or older can obtain a driver’s license without any additional requirements. 

It’s crucial to note that circumstances exist where exceptions are made. Emancipation and military service are examples where legal age requirements could be altered. It’s all subject to the will of the Colorado legal system.

Is the Age of Consent 16 or 18 in the US?

In the USA, the age of consent varies from state to state. The minimum age at which an individual is considered legally capable of giving consent to engage in sexual activity is therefore subject to jurisdiction. Therefore, some states have set it at 16 years old, while others have set it as 17 and 18 years old. This is because each state has its own judiciary.

It’s crucial to consult the specific laws of the state in question to determine the age of consent. The state’s age of consent laws are designed to protect young individuals from benign sexually exploited.

What is the Lowest Age of Consent in the US?

The lowest age of consent in the USA is 16. However, consent exceptions factor in. For instance, a Romeo and Juliet Law allows a person younger than 16 to engage in sexual contact, so long as the age difference is within the allowed range. That’s why a 14-year-old and a 17-year-old can legally consent to sex with one another in Colorado.

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Defending Yourself

A class 4 felony sexual assault conviction is nothing to play with. No defense or a poor one can result in years in prison. There exist many legal defenses designed to protect people wrongly accused of statutory rape and sexual assault. You can use the following defenses:

  • Age of Consent: Your defense can argue and prove that the alleged victim was in fact of age to consent, and did agree to consensual sex.
  • No sexual conduct or contact occurred: You can prove that no sexual encounter took place between you and the alleged victim.
  • False Accusations: Not all people alleged to have assaulted someone are guilty. Lies, spite, and wrath are common motivators for false accusations like these. Breakups and jealousy play a large part.

Take heed that believing the child was at least 17 – called mistake of fact – is not a defense. This is because statutory rape is a strict liability crime. Also, you won’t be spared going before a disciplinary authority simply because the victim believes that you shouldn’t be charged. That won’t save you from spending years in prison.

The Legal Advantage

Colorado Age of Consent laws can be a formidable labyrinth for the average citizen. Issues like common law marriage, whether the supervisory or disciplinary authority of the minor is liable when statutory rape happens, and how child prostitution laws extend into the age of consent are all very nuanced issues. Proper help is required to successfully traverse this tricky landscape.

With the proper Colorado criminal defense attorney, you can stand a fighting chance or better. Everyone deserves a chance to defend themselves when their freedoms are being threatened by accusations of wrongdoing. If this applies to you or someone you know, we’re here to lend our years of experience and expertise to the solution. 

Call us today and let us examine your case. We’ll let you know what your options are for defending yourself against whatever charges you’re facing in Colorado. Make an appointment with us to get the process started. 

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