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What is the rape shield law?

It's found under Colorado Revised Statute 18-3-407. What the rape shield law means is that, if a criminal defendant is charged with sexual assault, the defense can't bring up the victim's sexual history during the trial. The point of this law is to prevent putting the victim on trial for essentially being promiscuous. It's important to know that there are some exceptions to the general law that prevents this being used in trial. If the prior or subsequent instances of the victim's sexual conduct involve the defendant in the case, then they may be admissible. The reason for this is that generally a sexual relationship with the defendant may be relevant to show whether the victim consented to sex that's currently on trial. The victim's sexual history may also be admissible if it can show the source of physical evidence that is found on the victim or crime scene (to show source or origin of semen, pregnancy, disease, etc.). Finally, sexual history may be introduced if it shows that the victim has a history of false reporting of sexual assaults. In order to introduce any of this type of evidence, however, the defense has to file a motion at least 30 days before trial that specifically states what will be offered any why. The Prosecution then has an opportunity to object. If they do object, an evidentiary hearing must then be held by the Court to determine if the evidence will be admissible at trial. This is one of the few times that the defense has to tip its hand to the prosecution before trial and it's very important that the proper procedure is used. Otherwise, a defendant may find valuable evidence is not coming in at trial and he or she is being wrongfully convicted of a sexual assault.

While we hope you benefit from the information we posted above, it is important to note that we always suggest you contact an attorney to advise you and walk you through the legal process so that you can achieve the best possible result.

This blog was posted by Stephanie Rikeman, an associate attorney at Shazam Kianpour & Associates, P.C. You may contact her directly at our law firm at 303-825-1075 or online

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