Today, the Iyer Law Office in Denver discusses two, new Colorado laws in 2018. These include a stricter hit and run rule and a reduced penalty for teen sexting in certain situations. We want you to have all the information you need to ensure you know your rights now that these new laws are in effect. If you find yourself accused of either crime or any other charge that requires a tenacious criminal defense attorney, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us for your free case evaluation.
Let’s take a closer look at these new Colorado laws in 2018 and exactly what you need to know.
No Conviction Needed for License Suspension After a Hit and Run
The outcome of House Bill 17-1277, you can now have your license suspended if you leave the scene of an accident where there’s either been a death or serious bodily injury.
As you likely know, and a traffic offense lawyer will explain to you, drivers who have been in any type of car accident must stop right there at the scene. If you don’t do so immediately, you need to stop as close as possible or return to the location if it wasn’t safe for you to stop at the time of the incident.
You must also follow the standard protocol for accidents, such as providing your name, address, vehicle and insurance information to the other driver (or an occupant). Whenever possible, assist anyone else injured in the accident, including calling for an ambulance. Finally, notify the police right away with the accident location and any other details an officer requests.
If you decide to flee the scene, here are the consequences. When there’s serious bodily injury, you could be charged with a Colorado Class 4 Felony Hit and Run. Penalties include up to $500,000 in fines and/or 2-6 years in prison. If there’s a death, it’s a Class 3 felony and the fine maximum goes up to $750,000. You could also be facing up to 12 years in prison.
Now, one of the new Colorado laws in 2018 gives the Colorado Department of Revenue (CDOR), Division of Motor Vehicles, the ability to suspend your driver license if there is enough evidence to demonstrate that you (as the driver directly involved) failed to stop at the scene of an accident where a death or serious bodily injury occurred. This includes stopping immediately, as close to the scene as possible, and returning to the scene. All it takes is for a police officer to make a determination at the scene. At that point, they can provide you with a suspension notice and confiscate your driver license right on the spot.
You will then have 7 days to request a hearing with CDOR to appeal the suspension or else it will go into force with no real recourse for you. Perhaps, a police officer stopped you while you were attempting to return to the scene or their definition of “as close to the scene as possible” does not align with your own or the circumstances you faced at the time of the incident. There’s a lot of gray areas here, so it’s important to have a traffic offense lawyer to assist in fighting for your rights.
Teen Sexting Laws for 2018 Provide a Tiered Prosecution Approach
Another of the new Colorado laws in 2018 addresses charges for teens engaged in “sexting”. Previously, the only option available to prosecutors was felony exploitation of a child. As you can imagine, this led to very serious charges being brought against a number of juveniles – including those who were sexting with consenting friends. Many juvenile criminal defense lawyers, such as the Iyer Law Office, frequently assisted clients with egregious charges that would affect the rest of their lives.
Now, HB 17-1302 (Juvenile Sexting Crime) was passed by the Colorado Legislature in 2017 and went into effect as of January 1, 2018. This new law gives prosecutors more realistic options when it comes to a case that involving minors engaged in sexting. This tiered approach first splits behaviors into two categories, malicious distribution (abusive sexting) and consensual electronic exchange of explicit images.
The three areas that the new law focuses on are posting, exchanging and possession. Here’s a quick look how the tiered system will be implemented for each area.
- Posting – A crime is committed if a juvenile distributes, displays, or publishes a sexually explicit image to another who is at least 14 or is less than 4 years younger: without the depicted person’s permission, if the recipient did not request the image and experienced emotional distress, or if it was generally known that the person depicted should have reason to believe that the image would be kept private.This will now be considered a Class 2 Misdemeanor which may be increased to a Class 1 if there’s intent to coerce, intimidate or threaten the person depicted, if the offender has previously been caught sexting, or if the juvenile posted 3 or more images of different people.
- Exchanging – Let’s say a 15-year-old girl and her 16-year-old boyfriend willingly exchange nude and/or inappropriate images with each other. If caught, the new law would consider this a civil infraction and they may only face a $50 fine by signing up and completing an educational class on teen sexting. Now, if they were to break up, and one or both parties were to post photos of the other on social media or exchange them with friends, they could face misdemeanor or felony charges depending on the situation.
- Possession – It will be considered a petty offense for any juvenile to knowingly, and without permission, possess an explicit/inappropriate image of another who is at least 14 or is less than 4 years younger. A juvenile can also be charged with a Class 2 Misdemeanor if they possess 10 or more photos showing 3 or more distinct and separate people.
There are quite a few details regarding the new Colorado laws in 2018 affecting sexting that you should discuss with a juvenile criminal defense lawyer if you or your son/daughter is facing charges. A felony charge is still a possibility in more serious cases where the offenses go beyond what’s included in the text of the new law. The court can also spare first-time offenders from being listed on the sex offender registry, and juveniles who report or attempt to delete images within 72 hours can use an affirmative defense. Your lawyer can explain all of this to you, so don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.
Beyond these two examples, there are a number of new Colorado laws in 2018. So, if you find yourself facing criminal charges of any kind, please contact the Iyer Law Office in Denver to discuss your case. We’ll let you know if any changes affect your situation, then throw the full weight of our experience and expertise into defending you in court. Don’t have to face things alone – we’re here to fight for you.
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