DENVER — Colorado prosecutors will have twice as long as they do currently to file charges in hit-and-run vehicular homicide cases under a new law, one of about 50 new laws approved by the legislature earlier this year that take effect on Tuesday.
The new law, which arose out of bipartisan legislation, will double the statute of limitations to 10 years from five years, allowing law enforcement more time to find the perpetrators.
It also increases the statute of limitations to four years from two years for civil cases of wrongful death involving vehicular homicide, if the defendant also committed the offense of leaving the scene of an accident.
“This new law will go a long way toward giving law enforcement the ability to solve any fatal hit-and-runs that occur in Colorado,” said Rep. Kathleen Conti, R-Littleton, the bill’s House sponsor. “The families of victims can now feel more confident that the crime against their loved one will not go unsolved.”
Two other laws taking effect Tuesday aim to protect children.
One of them criminalizes “revenge porn”, the process when someone, typically a jilted lover or spouse, posting lewd and intimate photos of another person online with the intent of inflicting harm and emotional distress.
Under the new law, the crime can be prosecuted as a class 1 misdemeanor and carry a fine of up to $10,000.
“The effects of someone posting intimate photos online can be devastating to the victim, but now there will be serious consequences for the perpetrators of this horrible practice,” said Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, the bill’s sponsor. “Women, and men, of Colorado will be able to seek justice against someone attempting to cause them harm by publishing personal and private images online.”
Another new law, a Democratic version of “Jessica’s Law”, stiffens penalties for the worst cases of sexual assault against children but maintains discretion for prosecutors.
This law authorizes the maximum sentence of life in prison for class 2, 3, and 4 felonies, affecting acts that include sexual intrusion or sexual penetration against a child under the age of 12 when the offender was an adult and at least 10 years older than the child.
Prior to this new law, the maximum penalty for a class 2 felony sex offense against a child was 24 years in prison, and five years mandatory parole.
Republicans preferred the original Jessica’s Law language, which would have imposed 25-year minimum sentences across the board, but still supported the Democratic legislation after their proposal was voted down.
Of the 425 bills passed by the legislature this year, 238 have already taken effect.
Roughly 50 of them take effect on Tuesday.