February 21, 2024
In January 2020, the Colorado Springs court sentenced a 40-year-old man to five years in prison for sexual exploitation of a child. Police arrested him in September 2019 and charged him with possessing child pornography and failing to register email accounts. He subsequently pled guilty to the charges. At the time, he was already serving a four-year sentence of intense, supervised probation relating to charges of downloading child porn just one year earlier.
Colorado laws are very strict regarding child pornography. Though five years in prison is a long time, he could have received a longer sentence. A lot longer.
Let’s take a look at these crimes, the logic behind them, and see how severe the penalties can actually get.
Colorado Child Pornography Laws
Under Colorado law, there are three statutes involving child pornography. They focus on protecting children against the wrongful invasion of their privacy rights. Those under age 18 are essentially deemed incapable of permitting anyone to use their body for sexual purposes.
The laws consider the control and possession of sexually exploitative material involving those under age 18 as ongoing child victimization. Such materials represent lasting records of child sexual abuse, so each time someone shows and/or views them, children are harmed. Such materials may also encourage other children to participate in like behavior.
While there are laws banning the making and distribution of child pornography, they haven’t effectively decreased this practice. Because of this, state lawmakers believe that it is also necessary to ban the possession of the materials to protect society, as well as children’s emotional well-being.
All of the below acts are considered felonies, the most serious class of crimes.
Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child in Colorado
The first related Colorado statute is CRS 18-3-405.4 Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child. A perpetrator violates this statute when they intentionally lure or invite through a computer, text, instant message, or data network, a child they believe to be under 15 years old and at least four years younger than them, to:
- touch or expose their own or another individual’s intimate parts, or
- observe the other individual’s intimate parts.
This is a class 4 felony. Punishment involves two to six years imprisonment and/or a fine between $2,000 and $5,000. It also requires mandatory registration with Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry.
Colorado Procurement of a Child for Sexual Exploitation
Next is CRS 18-6-404 Procurement of a Child for Sexual Exploitation, which states that anyone who knowingly offers, provides, gives, or makes a child available to another person for sexual exploitation commits this felony.
This crime received class 3 felony status. It’s the highest class our state assigns any child pornography crimes. Punishment involves between four and 12 years in prison and/or a fine between $3,000 and $750,000. It also involves requires mandatory registration with Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child in Colorado
Last is CRS 18-6-403 Sexual Exploitation of a Child. A perpetrator commits this offense when they:
- own sexually exploitative material depicting children under age 18 engaged in a range of detailed sexual acts, or
- play a part in producing or disseminating such materials.
Depending on whether the perpetrator distributed materials, how many they had, and their previous charges, the state could charge them with either a class 3, class 4, or class 5 felony.
The making or distribution of materials is a class 3 felony – once again, the highest the state assigned to a child pornography crime. Punishment involves between four and 12 years in prison and/or a fine between $3,000 and $750,000.
A first time offense for possession of exploitative materials is a class 5 felony. Such involves one to three years in prison and/or a fine between $1,000 and $100,000.
A second offense is a class 4 felony. Punishment involves two to four years in prison and/or a fine between $2,000 and $500,000.
All punishments require mandatory registration with Colorado’s Bureau of Investigation’s Sex Offender Registry.
Federal Child Pornography Law
If a perpetrator’s violation of Colorado child pornography laws involved dissemination through the U.S. postal service or foreign or interstate commerce, the federal government could also charge and prosecute them under 18 U.S.C. 2251 Sexual Exploitation of Children.
Imprisonment for an initial conviction can include between 15 and 30 years in federal prison and a fine up to $250,000 (or more if the perpetrator profited from the exploitation).
If the perpetrator, however, had a prior federal conviction, their prison sentence could increase to between 25 and 50 years in federal prison.
If they had two prior convictions, their sentence would increase to 35 years to life in federal prison.
Moreover, there is no parole in the federal prison system.
Whatever your situation, you can see how serious these types of charges are. If you hope to avoid the worst possible outcome, you need to start building your defense immediately.
About the Author:
Denver-based criminal defense and DUI attorney Jacob E. Martinez is a knowledgeable and experienced litigator with a record of success providing innovative solutions to clients facing criminal charges of any severity. Mr. Martinez has been designated a Top 100 Trial Lawyer by the National Trial Lawyers and has been awarded both the Avvo Client’s Choice Award and Avvo Top Attorney designation, evidencing his reputation