Generally, Unlawful Sexual Contact is the Least Serious Sexual Offense
Unlawful Sexual Contact is usually charged in Jefferson and Arapahoe County as a class 1 misdemeanor, but under certain circumstances it can be charged as a more serious class 4 felony.
Sexual Assault vs. Unlawful Sexual Contact
We don’t usually see clients who are initially charged with Unlawful Sexual Contact unless it is one of several other charges. That is because the elements of this Colorado crime are similar to Sexual Assault, C.R.S. 18-3-402. Since the Sexual Assault statute provides for greater penalties, prosecutors in Douglas and Arapahoe County will overcharge in hopes of scaring a defendant into later pleading to a lesser charge. However, the consequences for a misdemeanor conviction of Unlawful Sexual Contact can last a lifetime. That is why it is crucial to know what a District Attorney must prove in court to win a conviction. Let’s begin with a not so hypothetical situation.
A Practical Example of Unlawful Sexual Contact in a Denver Bar
An inebriated Denver man was dancing in a crowded bar. Although he remembered bumping into a large woman more than once, his primary recollection was the bouncer who grabbed him by the arm and took him aside. The woman he was bumping told management that the drunk man touched her breasts and buttocks while on the dance floor. At her request, the bouncer called the police, and they showed up almost immediately. The man, most likely due to his level of intoxication, made several loud denials along with a remark concerning the amount of space the woman was occupying. After several minutes the police had heard enough and arrested the man for Sexual Assault. He did not arouse the sympathy of anyone.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers in places like Weld and Douglas County do not often understand the elements of sex crimes. Like in the situation above, when a person becomes belligerent and disrespectful, police find it easier to simply make an arrest rather than continue to argue with someone. They can think of charges later. As a side note, it is never a good idea to argue with police. They can make your life very inconvenient even when they are wrong. The Denver DA, knowing they couldn’t prove Sexual Assault, filed charges of misdemeanor Unlawful Sexual Contact.
Requirements of This Misdemeanor Sexual Crime
For someone to be convicted of Unlawful Sexual Contact in Colorado, the person must knowingly subject a victim to sexual contact. This is a key element and under the above circumstances would be very difficult to prove. We hear many stories like the one above where good people that do not get proper legal advice and are intimidated by prosecutors into taking a misdemeanor conviction, simply because they do not want to risk the possibility of a felony record. What they don’t know is that Unlawful Sexual Contact is considered an extraordinary risk crime which subjects the defendant to sex offender registration and harsher penalties.
If you are accused of Unlawful Sexual Contact, we recommend you be polite and be smart, exercise your right to remain silent, and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.