Recently, Colorado signed into law a statute that will give victims of sexual assault unlimited time to file lawsuits against the offenders. After years of hard work by lawmakers to change Colorado’s sexual assault laws, Governor Jared Polis signed Senate Bills 73 and 88 into law. The move allows sexual assault victims to receive compensation for their injuries.
The most notable change in the new law is that it eliminates the six-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against sex crime perpetrators. If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse and would like to know how this new law affects you, you can consult criminal defense lawyers in Colorado Springs. They can advise you on your legal options and the best action to take.
What Was the Old Statute of Limitations for Sexual Assault?
Previously, the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases was capped at age 24. In other words, a victim of child sexual abuse had up to 6 years after attaining the age of 18 to pursue a claim. Attempts by lawmakers in the last 15 years to revise the time limit were not successful. However, they finally passed a repeal that took effect on January 1, 2022.
Sexual Assault Defined
The law defines sexual assault as having penetrative sex without consent from the other person and comprises:
- Anal sex
- Vaginal penetration
- Oral copulation
- Using fingers to penetrate the genitals
- Penetration using a foreign object
Rape also includes penetrative sex with incapacitated people or someone too drunk to consent. The Act is a felony punishable by imprisonment in a Colorado State Prison for two years. The offender must also register as a sex offender. Felony crime lawyers in Colorado Springs can help you pursue justice for sexual abuse claims.
What is New in Senate Bill 73?
The previous sexual abuse law tolls the six-year statute of limitations when a victim is a person living with a disability or when the perpetrator has a special relationship with the victim. The bill defines sexual misconduct and eliminates the limitation on derivative claims and those brought against an individual or entity that isn’t the perpetrator of the sexual misconduct.
Other notable provisions in the Act are:
- A victim of a series of sexual assaults doesn’t need to establish the specific Act that caused their injuries.
- It repels the limited waiver of the doctor-patient privilege for claims involving a person with a disability.
- Initially, a victim who pursues legal action 15 years or more after attaining 18 years could only recover certain damages. The Act eliminates this provision.
- Previously, a sexual abuse victim living with a disability or in a special relationship with the perpetrator couldn’t bring an action against an incapacitated or deceased defendant. The Act overrules this provision.
- The Act removes the exemption for statute of limitations for claims in medical negligence involving sexual assault, in which the claim was previously subject to the same limitation as any other negligence claim in medical practice.
Comparing the old and new laws can be a little complex, especially in understanding how they affect your case. Colorado Springs felony crime attorneys can walk you through what the changes mean. They can also provide the legal representation and support you need to pursue justice.
What Sex Crimes Have No Statutes of Limitations in the New Colorado Law?
District attorneys in Colorado can help victims pursue justice for the following felonies at any time:
- Sexual assault (CRS 18-3-402) in which the DNA evidence of the suspected offender is present, and the offense was reported within 20 years of the incident
- Sexual offenses against children, including sexual enticement, assault, unlawful contact, aggravated incest, indecent exposure, and procurement of a child for sexual exploitation. Other crimes are the solicitation of child prostitution, sex trafficking, luring or exploiting a child through the internet, or pandering and pimping a child.
The new law also removes the time limit to press charges for conspiracy, attempt, or solicitation of the above offenses. Colorado Springs sexual assault lawyers can help you pursue justice if you’ve not already started the process for sex crimes committed against you.
Why Did the State Repeal the Sexual Abuse Case Statue of Limitations?
Several factors influenced the lawmakers’ decision to repeal the statute of limitations in sexual abuse cases:
- Children who are victims of sexual abuse may not realize that what was done to them was against the law until they’re much older
- Sexual offenders often manipulate minors and threaten them into silence
- Children subjected to sexual abuse may not speak out for fear of complicating personal relationships or offending the perpetrator
- Influential organizations where sexual assault often happens silence and discredit victims
- Sexual abuse is emotionally and psychologically damaging, and victims may not have the strengths to pursue legal action until later with the support of a therapist and a supportive legal team
- The burden of proof often lies with the plaintiff, which can take a long time, given that the defense has a right to their day in court
- Offenders must be brought to book and pay for their misconduct no matter how long it takes
A Compassionate Sexual Assault Lawyer on Your Side to Help You Pursue Justice
As of January 2022, victims of sexual assault can file a lawsuit against the responsible offender at any time. That provision is now in Colo. Rev. Stat. § 13-80-103.7, as long as the circumstances surrounding the abuse meet the criteria for sexual misconduct and felonies. The law applies to all sexual assault survivors in Colorado regardless of their age when it happened.
Working with felony crime attorneys in Colorado can make the process easier and enhance the chances of getting a favorable outcome in the ruling. Our Colorado Springs sexual assault attorney has exceptional knowledge and experience in the criminal justice system and can help you build a strong and strategic case in pursuing justice. Contact us for a FREE in-depth case evaluation.