What is Rape Shield Law and What are its Punishments in Colorado?
Rape is a heinous crime which victimizes millions of innocents across the world. In the United States of America, millions of women have been subjected to rape, with an average of 321,500 victims getting raped or experiencing sexual assault each year.
In the U.S, girls and women between ages 12-34 have the highest chance or risk of experiencing rape or sexual assault. The findings of a survey show that approximately 17.7 million American women, by 1998 had been victims of attempted rape or completed rape.
A rape shield law is designed to explicitly protect and limit to demonstrate evidence victim s of rape about their sexual patterns and behaviors before the incident of rape. Under the rape shield law, one cannot cross-interrogate rape victims about their sexual behavior in the past. Under the rape shield law, one cannot reveal the identity of the rape victim under any circumstances.
All the major countries in the world have their rape shield laws, including the United States of America. It was in the state of Michigan in the USA that the first rape shield law was introduced as early as in 1974.
After the laws passing in Michigan, almost all the states in the U.S.A devised their rape shield laws within two decades. Popular as they might seem, the laws were also held by critics as unfair as it eliminated the defendant's right to charge the accuser.
The first rape shield law was passed in the U.S. state of Michigan in 1974, and within two decades almost every U.S. state had enacted one. Although the laws were popular in the United States, they also drew critics, who sometimes charged that the laws violated a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront his accuser. Some also claimed that the law was a direct violation of one’s use of his or her right to freedom of speech.
Colorado, like all other states in America, has its own version of the rape shield law. House Bill 18-1243, the Colorado Civil Rape Shield bill, also known as house bill 18-1243 was signed into law in Colorado by Governor Hickenlooper. The rape shield law was sponsored by Mike Foote, who was a Democratic representative and Cole Wist, who was a Republican representative.
The rape shield law in Colorado comes under Colorado criminal law. In Colorado, evidence of the rape victim's sexual behavior is held as unnecessary and immaterial except for the following circumstances:
- When there is evidence of the sexual behavior of the victim with the defendant either prior to the rape or after the rape.
- When there is evidence of particular instances of the sexual act which shows the findings of disease, pregnancy, semen or evidence of sexual intercourse which are introduced for the intention of showing that the sexual act was not committed by the assaulter.
- The party that wants to show evidence of sexual conduct must file a confidential motion at least before 63 days before the trial takes place. In such a situation, the court conducts an in camera hearing before the ruling on the motion which permits both the parties to be heard including the rape victim. Before ruling on the motion, the court shall conduct an in camera hearing and allow the parties and alleged victim to attend and be heard.
- If the court finds out after the execution of the hearing, that the evidence with regard to the sexual orientation of the victim or witness is relevant to the rape case, the court can order the introduction of such evidence to the court.