State Legislature

Several new state laws take effect

Revenge-posting, fatal hit-and-runs, Jessica's Law addressed

Staff report
Posted

A wide-ranging group of 50 new laws dealing with everything from Internet crimes to marijuana research to Jessica's Law took effect July 1.

The statutes are among 425 bills that passed the Legislature and were signed into law by Gov. John Hickenlooper this year.

One of the more interesting laws creates a misdemeanor for the online posting of sexual photos of a person for the purposes of harassment or financial gain, otherwise known as “revenge porn.”

Posting of the so-called revenge porn is often carried out by an angry lover or spouse as a way of getting back at their partner over a relationship gone wrong. The new law — which had bipartisan support at the Capitol — carries with it a maximum fine of $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 bill sponsor Rep. Amy Stephens, R-Monument, through an e-mailed statement.

Another noteworthy statute will provide $9 million for the study of the health benefits of medical marijuana.

The legislation sets up a grant program to fund scientific research into the ways that medical pot can impact those who have chronic ailments.

New public safety laws also took effect on July 1. They included a law that will give police more time to investigate fatal hit-and-runs.

The law extends the statute of limitations for fatal hit-and-runs to 10 years. Prior to the new law taking effect, a hit-and-run crime could not be prosecuted five years after the incident occurred.

“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, a bill sponsor. “The families of victims can now feel more confident that the crime against their loved one will not go unsolved.”

Also, child sex offenders will face more stringent sentencing penalties, under Colorado's first-ever version of “Jessica's Law.”

The law — based on a national initiative that is named after a Florida girl who was murdered by a sex offender — imposes a mandatory minimum sentencing structure that includes up to life in prison for those who commit violent sexual assaults against children.

Prior to the new law, the most severe sentence a court could hand out was 24 years behind bars.

Also taking effect on July 1 was the state's annual budget. The budget commits $188 million to flood and wildfire recovery efforts; provides more than $100 million in funding for students attending state colleges and universities; and increases the state's emergency “rainy day” fund by $130 million.