Dueling versions of a bill aimed at creating stiffer penalties for those who commit sex crimes on children were heard in legislative committee hearings last week, but only one survived.
The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on …
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The House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee on March 3 gave unanimous approval to a Democrat-sponsored bill that would create a Colorado version of Jessica’s Law. The law is a national initiative that came as a result of the 2005 rape and murder of 9-year-old Jessica Lunsford of Florida.
The law would impose mandatory minimum sentences for for sexual assaults on children.
House Bill 1260, sponsored by Rep. Mike Foote, D-Lafayette, creates a minimum sentencing structure of 10 years behind bars for crimes of sexual penetration of a child under the age of 12. The bill would also set a minimum sentence of 24 years for serious cases of sexual assault, and judges would be able impose life sentences, if they believe the punishment is warranted.
Meanwhile, a Republican effort to create a “Jessica’s Law” statute failed. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Libby Szabo, R-Arvada, would have created the identical version of Florida’s law, which imposes a 25-year minimum sentence for sexual assaults on children.
Foote, a Boulder County deputy district attorney, said Szabo lifted the Florida law “almost word for word.” He said her bill was “overbroad in its consequences” and would have been subjected to constitutional challenges.
Szabo’s bill failed in the same committee on a party-line vote. Foote’s bill now heads to the House Appropriations Committee, before it receives a full vote in the House.
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