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Colorado’s Rape Shield law is a tool used by the prosecution to prevent defendants from presenting a complete defense to certain charges which could put them in prison for the rest of their lives.
By way of brief background, in 2014, the Colorado General Assembly passed C.R.S. 18-3-407 (Colorado’s Rape Shield Law), titled “victim’s and witness’s prior history – evidentiary hearing – victim’s identity – protective order.” This law limits defendants’ ability to use victims’ or witnesses’ prior acts of sexual conduct to question their credibility trial.
The most recent version of Colorado’s Rape Shield Law went into effect on July 1, 2014. Below is a summary of the Rape Shield Statute as it appears in Colorado Criminal Statute 18-3-407
When the Colorado legislature passed the Rape Shield statute, it declared it would prevent defendants from using rape shield evidence as a means of inflicting emotional or psychological abuse on victims as a punishment for their cooperation in prosecuting a criminal case. People v. McKenna, 585 P.2d 275 (Colo. 1978).
The basic purpose C.R.S. 18-3-407 is to provide rape victims more protection from humiliating and embarrassing “fishing expeditions” into their sexual history overcome their reluctance to participate in criminal prosecutions.
The Rape Shield statute permits a defendant to introduce evidence of his prior sexual conduct with the victim or witness. This type of evidence could include the fact that he dated the victim or hooked up with her at a party. The sexual conduct can have occurred years in the past.
Colorado’s Rape Shield statute permits the introduction of evidence to prove a defendant was not the source of the semen found on or inside of the victim. Because DNA evidence is generally obtained in sexual assault cases, the ability to argue that the semen found inside the victim was not the defendant’s is a critical defense.
Other evidence, like previous false allegations of rape made by the victim, is admissible with permission from the Court. Colorado’s Rape Shield Law is confusing and complicated. If you are charged with a sex crime, you should hire an attorney immediately.
Evidence of a victim’s or witness’ prior sexual history is admissible in the following exceptional circumstances: