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Romeo and Juliet Clause

Colorado, as with many other states, provides a legal exception for couples within the same relative age range against the state’s age of consent laws. This means that, even though the age of consent is 17, it may be legal for a person within the age range to engage in sexual activity with the minor.

This provision is located in CRS 18-3-402(1)(e), laws defining sexual assault: “At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is at least fifteen years of age but less than seventeen years of age and the actor is at least ten years older than the victim and is not the spouse of the victim.”

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Age of Consent

The age of consent in Colorado is 17. This means that it is generally illegal for any person over the age of 17 to have sex with a person under the age of 17. Persons under the age of 17 may have sex with people ages 15 – 17.

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Age Exception

The exception in Colorado, also known as the Romeo and Juliet Clause, is 10 years. This means that it may be legal for a 16-year-old to have sex with a 24-year-old.

Additionally, for couples where one person is under the age of 15, there is a 4-year allowable age gap. This means that sexual relations may be acceptable with couples where one person is 11 and the other is 14.

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Not a Complete Defense

While the Romeo and Juliet Clause is a strong defense, it is not all-encompassing. There are certain scenarios in which the age difference does not matter, and the accused party is still responsible for statutory rape.

The following are a few examples:

  1. The accused is a trusted person in authority: In cases where one of the partners is a teacher, minister, doctor, therapist or holds any other position of authority over the minor, the state will not protect them. This is because the power dynamic between the two parties is too wide for full-consent, and the possibility of coercion is too high.
  2. Out-of-state travel: It is illegal under federal law to travel to another state for the purposes of sex to circumvent one or two party’s state law(s). This is to prevent predators from targeting certain states for “sex tourism.”
  3. Grooming: If one party has been treating the other from a young age with the intention of having sex with them, that is illegal.
  4. Forceable sex or coercion: Colorado’s Romeo and Juliet Clause protects couples engaging in consensual sex. Cases that include blackmail, coercion, forceable penetration or physical restraint are not protected by the state and will be prosecuted harshly.

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Hire a Statutory Rape Defense Attorney in Denver, Colorado

If you have been charged with statutory rape, then you need representation fast. These types of charges will damage your representation for life, and may result in difficulty finding employment, housing and education, and can severely damage your friendships and social status. Understanding the law is the first step to protecting yourself.

Matthew Martin is a certified criminal defense attorney in the greater Denver, Colorado area. He has experience providing assistance in juvenile, and non-juvenile sex crime cases.

Matthew Martin represents clients on sex crime charges throughout the state of Colorado, including the city of Denver in Denver County, and the surrounding areas in the Front Range region including: Brighton in Adams County. Centennial and Littleton in Arapahoe County, Castle Rock in Douglas County, Golden in Jefferson County, and Boulder and Longmont in Boulder County.

To request an initial consultation call (303) 725-0017.

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