What is the legal definition of sexual assault?
For the purposes of getting a protection order, sexual assault or sexual abuse means any act, attempted act, or threatened act of unlawful sexual behavior.* "Unlawful sexual behavior" can include many sex-based crimes such as sexual penetration or intrusion (such as inserting an object) against your will and without your consent, touching your intimate parts or forcing you to touch the abuser's intimate parts. Sexual assault/abuse can occur by physical force, coercion, threat or trickery. This includes situations in which a victim is drunk, drugged, unconscious, or otherwise unable to consent.**
Also included in the definition of sexual assault is what is commonly known as “statutory rape” – where the sexual act is consensual (agreed to by both people) but either:
- The victim is under 15 and the offender is at least 4 years older than the victim or
- The victim is under 17 (is 15 or 16) and the offender is at least 10 years older than the victim.***
Exception: if the couple is married to each other, and the sexual act is consensual, it does not qualify as statutory rape.***
Note: There are many other sex-based crimes that are considered unlawful sexual behavior that may qualify you for a protection order.**** To read the whole statute, go to our CO Statutes page and read section 16-11.7-102, subsection (3).
* Colo. Rev. Stat. §13-14-101(2.9)
** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-402(1)(a)-(c),(h)
*** Colo. Rev. Stat. § 18-3-402(1)(d)-(e)
**** See Colo. Rev. Stat. §§ 13-14-101(2.9), 16-11.7-102(3)