Contrasting Nevada and Colorado Rape Laws

By: Jenny Rabin
By: Jenny Rabin

The sexual assault laws on the books in Colorado are quite different from the laws here in Nevada.

Colorado's definition of consent for sex goes beyond whether or not the victim said yes or no. In Colorado, consent assumes free and un-coerced action without even the influence of fear.

In Nevada, fear is not mentioned in the definition of sexual assault. It merely says it is any sexual act that is against another person's will. That sexual act includes any type of penetration.

Colorado has four varying degrees of sexual assault.

Class one is the most severe where rape is accompanied by
a kidnapping.

Class two involves a rapist who uses a deadly weapon or inflicts serious bodily harm to force the submission.

Class three - which is what Kobe Bryant is charged with - involves the use of physical force, violence or threats to force submission.

Lastly, class four is sex with an unwilling partner that does not involve force.

The District Attorney in Colorado who charged Bryant with class three could ask the judge to give the jury the option of convicting him of class 4 if the jury doesn't find him guilty of class 3.

All four classes are felonies . . . so if Bryant is convicted of any of them, he could face anywhere from probation to life in prison with fines up to $750,000.

Historically, first-time offenders in Colorado are not given prison terms but that leniency doesn't always apply to sex offenders.

Even if Bryant were to escape jail time if convicted, probation is tough in Colorado.

In 1988 the state passed the sexual offenders lifetime supervision act which forces a convicted offender to admit to the sexual assault.

That person must then attend mandatory treatment programs and
report regularly for polygraph and plethysmograph testing - a plethysmograph measures recent sexual activity.

"Big deal. If you get convicted here you're going to go to prison for life, be on parole for the rest of your life if you do parole out and still be a registered sex offender," says Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick.

Nevada does not have the four degrees of sexual assault.

Instead it has enhancements that include if the victim suffered substantial bodily harm or if the victim was very young or old in age.

A sexual assault conviction in Nevada for substantial bodily harm brings a 15 year to life without parole sentence.

A conviction for no substantial bodily harm brings the possibility of ten years to life with parole.

Both Nevada and Colorado, like most states across the country, have rape shield laws that prevent the defense from using the accuser's sexual or mental history in court.

And all of these laws aside, Washoe County District Attorney Dick Gammick says what it really comes down to in the end is who does the jury believe.

The accuser or the accused.


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