Hearsay Exception for Persons with Developmental Disabilities Signed into Law
On Tuesday, April 3, Governor John Hickenlooper signed HB12-1085 into law thereby helping to increase access to justice for crime victims with developmental disabilities. This legislation, sponsored and guided through the legislative process by Rep. Rhonda Fields, allows for otherwise inadmissible out-of-court statements that support the credibility and accuracy of a victim with developmental disabilities' statements. The bill enables a victim's statements to be heard as presented to those who know and understand the victim's communication style, while protecting the rights of the accused by directing the court to determine whether the victim's statement provide sufficient safeguards of reliability.
Enactment of this legislation into law is an important step in helping to ensure justice for victims of crime with developmental disabilities. Colorado joins California, Florida, Illinois, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota and Vermont in offering a similar exception to hearsay.
Research shows that prosecutors report less than 1% of sex assault cases involve victims with developmental disabilities. However, it is estimated that upwards of 80% of women and 32% of men with developmental disabilities will be victims of sexual violence. Assault crimes are other not pursued for prosecution because of challenges in investigating and prosecuting such crimes. HB12-1085 offers one solution to help in addressing the challenges associated with prosecuting sex assault crimes.