Once-popular comedian, Bill Cosby, is responsible for opening a floodgate of potential criminal charges based on decades-old memories.
Over the past few years, dozens of women have come forward alleging that Cosby sexually assaulted them. This situation is unique and the final outcome looks bad for Cosby. However, the uproar against him prompted a law change in Colorado that will affect many others accused of past sex crimes.
What is the new law?
The time limit that a person has to file charges against another is referred to as a statute of limitations. The statute - a law - places a limit on the amount of time someone has to file a lawsuit.
For example, the statute of limitations for personal injury accidents is generally two years. If Mary is in a car accident caused by Joe, she has to file a lawsuit against him for her losses before the two-year statute of limitations expires.
The fervor caused by the Cosby case prompted Colorado lawmakers to extend the statute of limitations for sex assault cases from 10 to 20 years, for adults. Governor John Hickenlooper signed the new law on June 20 of this year. Others states across the country have also changed their laws for the same reason. In fact, one state completely did away with the time limit.
What does this mean for defendants?
Before the law change, Colorado's statute of limitations for sex assault claims was 10 years. This means that an alleged victim had to file a lawsuit no later than 10 years after the alleged incident. Now, that time limit has been extended to 20 years.
Some people cannot recall details of momentous occasions that occurred five years ago. Now, alleged victims can make accusations based on memories from 10 to 20 years in the past. The updated law increases the risk of mistakes for those accused of sex assault crimes. A jilted lover, a person looking for his or her 15 minutes of fame or a person who is harboring a grudge can bring trumped-up charges that are based on fuzzy memories, mistaken identity and forgotten facts.
Convictions can lead to tough penalties in Colorado
Not only do those accused of sex assault face the personal and professional stigma of a criminal charge, they can face severe penalties if convicted, including:
- Years to a lifetime in jail or on probation
- Registration as a sex offender
- Up to hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines
These penalties do not include the non-monetary effects, such as limitations for career advancement and renting or purchasing a home due to its location.
Those charged with sex assault in Colorado should seek the help of a skilled criminal defense attorney from Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C., in Denver.