Is the state of Colorado charging you with online solicitation of a minor?
Online solicitation of a minor in Colorado falls under the state’s sexual exploitation laws. In turn, Colorado’s sexual exploitation laws are a subset of the state’s child pornography laws. These laws are some of the harshest in the country. Prosecutors and judges often pursue maximum penalties in these cases.
In this post, Denver sex crimes attorney Jeff Weeden will answer all your questions regarding sexual exploitation charges, as well as possible legal defenses.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor in Colorado?
Online solicitation of a minor falls under Colorado’s sexual exploitation laws. This is officially referred to as “internet luring of a child” in Colorado. And the state can charge you with sexual exploitation of a minor if you knowingly:
- Record, film, photograph, develop, or duplicate any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct.
- Distribute, transport, exhibit, receive, sell, purchase, electronically transmit, possess, or exchange any visual depiction of a minor engaged in sexual conduct.
In short, if you possess, create, or distribute child pornography, Colorado can charge you with sexual exploitation of a minor.
What is Online Solicitation of a Minor in Colorado?
But, online solicitation of a minor doesn’t always involve child pornography. Even asking for explicit images of a minor is illegal under Colorado’s sexual exploitation laws.
For instance, say a defendant is chatting online with someone they know or believe is under the age of 18. If the defendant solicits or offers sexual conduct with that person, they can face online solicitation, or “luring a minor” charges. The state defines sexual conduct as sexual intercourse or oral sexual contact.
How Does Colorado Define Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Colorado officially terms this “internet luring of a child”. Colorado Revised Statute: 18-3-306 involves an adult making sexually explicit comments to a minor with the intention of meeting up and engaging in sexual acts.
You can be charged if you lure a child via text messages, phone calls, or on social media. To justify a conviction, prosecutors must prove the following. That you :
- Knowingly communicated using a computer, network, phone or data network, text message, or instant message.
- Knew or were led to believe the individual was younger than the age of 15
- Are 4 years older than the individual’s believed age
- Communicated sexual content
- Invited the individual to meet you for any purpose
What Are The Penalties for Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Online solicitation of a minor or luring a child with the intention to engage in sexual activity is a class 4 felony in Colorado.
For a first-offense class 4 felony, consequences can range from 2 to 6 years in prison, as well as extensive fines and court fees. These are serious charges with extensive penalties.
Luring a child through the internet without the intention of engaging in sexual activity is a class 5 felony in Colorado. The consequences of a class 5 felony range from 1 to 3 years in prison.
These penalties are only for a first offense. If the defendant has prior felony convictions, potential prison time increases drastically.
What Are The Possible Legal Defenses For Online Solicitation of a Minor?
Many arrests in online solicitation cases occur after an elaborate sting operation by law enforcement. What this entails is a police officer posing as a minor online. If anyone solicits or offers sexual conduct with the undercover police officer, the state can charge that person with online solicitation.
In these cases, defendants may believe that the fact that they were never in contact with a minor is a defense. But, the actual text of the statute that deals with online solicitation excludes this as a defense.
It does not matter that the defendant was never in contact with a minor. If they believed they were in contact with someone under the age of 18, they have committed online solicitation of a minor.
Lack of Intent
The most successful defenses for crimes of this nature involve demonstrating a lack of intent to go through with the sex act.
In order to get a conviction, the prosecution must prove that the defendant intended to engage in sexual conduct with the minor, and did not intend to meet with the minor for any other reason.
For instance, take a defendant that the state charges with online solicitation crimes. Police arrested this defendant after the defendant made plans online to meet with someone they believed was a minor. If the defendant never had a sexually explicit conversation with the person they believed was a minor, or never asked them to engage in sexual conduct, a defense attorney can use lack of intent as a defense. It is not illegal to make plans to meet with a minor for purposes that are not sexual.
Contact WeedenLaw Today
Jeff Weeden is an experienced sex crimes attorney in the Denver, Colorado area. If you or someone you love is facing sexual exploitation or online solicitation charges, call WeedenLaw at 702-307-4330 for a free initial consultation. You can also leave us a message on our website.