Earlier this month, the Fountain Fire Department received devastating news: an alleged sexual assault took place between a firefighter and another member of the department.
The firefighter/paramedic was taken into custody on October 6th and placed on unpaid administrative leave. The fire department released a statement two days later.
Sexual assault is a serious crime in the state of Colorado. If convicted, the firefighter could face six years behind bars. He may also face other penalties, including a spot on the Sex Offender Registry in Colorado.
The Official Statement from Fountain’s Fire Department
“We take this situation very seriously and have a responsibility to keep our department members safe. We want to thank the Colorado Springs Police Department for their work, and we are cooperating with them as this investigation continues. The Fountain Fire Department has great men and women and we will continue to move forward and serve our citizens while the justice system runs its course…”
Sexual Assault Laws and Penalties in Colorado
While this incident has garnered well-deserved attention, this type of crime isn’t new here. Our state has a high rate of sexual assault, according to statistics. Still, sex crimes aren’t always so cut-and-dry. Coercion, manipulation, or power dynamics may be present.
Colorado defines sexual assault as an act of knowingly inflicting sexual intrusion or sexual penetration on a victim, if:
- “The actor causes submission of the victim by means of sufficient consequences reasonably calculated to cause submission against the victim’s will; or
- The actor knows that the victim is incapable of appraising the nature of the victim’s conduct; or
- The actor knows that the victim submits erroneously, believing the actor to be the victim’s spouse; or
- At the time of the commission of the act, the victim is less than fifteen years of age and the actor is at least four years older than the victim and isn’t the spouse of the victim; or
- 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; or
- The victim is in legal custody or detained in a hospital or other institution and the actor has supervisory or disciplinary authority over the victim and uses this position of authority, unless incident to a lawful search, to coerce the victim to submit; or
- The actor, while purporting to offer a medical service, engages in treatment or examination of a victim for other than bona fide medical purposes or in a manner substantially inconsistent with reasonable medical practices; or
- The victim is physically helpless and the actor knows the victim is physically helpless and the victim has not consented”
A victim’s age could be the factor that puts a defendant behind bars for years. If you have been accused of sexual assault, it is important to understand where your case fits into this criteria. If it doesn’t, you might have a greater chance of walking free.
Penalties for Sexual Assault in Colorado
Sexual assault is a class 4 felony in the state of Colorado. Penalties include:
- Between 2-6 years behind bars
- Fines of up to $500,000
- Placement on the sex offender registry*
*Should a defendant fail to register or maintain registration, they could even face additional felony charges.
Other Charges and Penalties for Sexual Assault Crimes In Colorado
If no penetration or intrusion was involved, but a defendant still fails to get consent from the victim, they might face a lesser charge: unlawful sexual contact. This is a class 1 misdemeanor, but may still require registration on the sex offender registry.
But defendants may also face higher penalties if certain aggravating factors were at play during the assault:
- The defendant used force, threats, or controlled substances in order for the victim to submit
- Two or more people were actors in the sexual assault
- The victim suffered bodily injury
- The defendant was armed during the assault
These aggravating factors could increase an offender’s prison sentence to up to 24 years behind bars.
Remember, You Are Innocent Until Proven Guilty
An arrest for sexual assault alone can feel like a death sentence. These cases have made huge news headlines, and people across the country may take the role of the judge into their own hands.
Fortunately, our justice system states that all defendants are innocent until proven guilty. Prosecutors will have to prove that the defendant did commit sexual assault. If the prosecutor does not have enough evidence to do so, the defendant will walk free.
Certain defense strategies may or may not be appropriate depending on the evidence and testimony applicable to the case. If you have been arrested or charged with sexual assault, reach out to a Colorado defense lawyer immediately to start building an effective strategy, and walk free.
About the Author:
Andrew Bryant is a well-respected Colorado Springs criminal attorney who has been practicing in the area for years. A Colorado native, he returned to the home he loves after graduating from the University of Kentucky College of Law. Now, he uses the knowledge he gained as an El Paso County District Attorney to fight tirelessly for his clients’ rights. He is AV-Preeminent rated, has been recognized for his work by The National Trial Lawyers, and has been named to Best of the Springs lists by The Gazette for years.