Statute of Limitations

When it comes to sex crimes in Colorado, our Denver criminal lawyer is sometimes asked about the statute of limitations.

This can be particularly true when child abuse allegations surface years or decades later, or when DNA or other evidence results in an arrest for rape or other sex crime long after the alleged crime was committed.

Sexual Offense Defense

Our Lawyers believes making a determination regarding statute of limitations is just one aspect of defending a client against the allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior. The state’s statute of limitations generally requires criminal charges to be brought within a set period of time.

The time frame can vary, depending on the crime. But certain charges, including murder and child sex abuse, have no set statute of limitations. Other sex crimes against children may be brought until a child victim turns 28 years of age (10 years after adulthood).

For most other sex crimes, prosecutors have 10 years to bring charges for felonies under Colorado law and 18 months to five years for misdemeanor sex offenses.

Additionally, a DNA exemption exists that permits law enforcement to bring charges against a defendant identified by DNA. In such cases, so long as a sex crime was reported within 10 years of being committed, no statute of limitations exists for prosecuting an unknown defendant who is ultimately identified by DNA.

It goes without saying that a Denver criminal lawyer should always represent a defendant facing a sex crime. But in cases where an old sex crime is brought before the court, it can be particularly critical to consult with an aggressive law firm experienced in handling Colorado sex crimes.

Determining statute of limitations can be a complex process – and a reduction of charges can result in a case being subjected to statute of limitations. Additionally, defending against an old sex crimes presents unique challenges when it comes to dealing with witnesses and available evidence.

Just as a defendant should not talk to law enforcement investigating other crimes, he should not speak to detectives looking at an old sex crime allegation. Unfortunately, the passage of time can make such allegations seem less serious. And a defendant may think that cooperating with authorities is the best chance to avoid the embarrassment of such charges.

The truth of the matter is that such charges can be every bit as serious as if they happened yesterday. In some cases, even more so because of the complexities of defending a client against old allegations, fading memories and aged or missing evidence.

Colorado Statute of Limitations

  • No statute of limitations on child sex abuse
  • 10 years from the commission of the crime for most sex offenses in Colorado
  • For sex crimes involving children, prosecutors generally have 10 years from the time a victim turns 18
  • Charges involving misdemeanor sex offenses, including sex assault and unlawful sexual contact, must be made within five years of the commission of the crime
  • Other misdemeanor sex crimes must be prosecuted within 18 months
  • Charges for failure to register as a sex offender, when a crime involves children, must generally be brought within three years