Colorado Is Serious about Protecting Teens Online — Including from Sexting

The internet poses a risk to kids. That is just fact. All over the country, states are taking measures to help protect kids from the dangers present online – including Colorado.

The changes made to laws in Colorado have taken it from the 22nd safest state for kids to the number one place. What is responsible for this change? Primarily, the state has put more laws in place for sexting, including 11 laws that seek to protect kids from cyberbullying and sexting. All this has resulted in fewer crimes being perpetrated against children online in the state, a drastic improvement.

What are these laws in Colorado that have made such a big difference? Read on to find out.

Sexting in Colorado

Sexting is defined as taking sexual, nude, or explicit images and sending them through the internet or by phone to another person. In Colorado, there are specific laws that address sexting by those who are under the age of 18 in the state.

This allows prosecutors to charge minors in a way that saves them from the requirement to register as a sex offender. They can also avoid felonies on their criminal history. However, it’s always an option for prosecutors to charge them with felonies if they believe the conduct warrants it.

Teen Sexting Laws in Colorado

The teen sexting laws adopted in Colorado are meant to address sexting between two consenting teens. This new law has created a tiered system that helps to distinguish between consensual sexting messages and those that are meant to be malicious or abusive.

There are three specific sexting offenses in this law. They are:

Exchanging Text

This offense occurs when a minor knowingly exchange images of themselves with another who is at least 14. The receiving party cannot be more than four years younger than they are, and they must have consented to the exchange. If someone over 14 but under 18 possesses an image of another teen who is not younger than them by four years, that is also covered under this law, as long as the image was sent consensually.


When a minor in Colorado knowingly obtains a picture of someone else who is at least 14 or less than four years younger than they are without consent, then it is a crime under the new Colorado laws.


If a minor has images of another who is at least 14 (or less than 4 years younger than them) and knowingly publishes or distributes the image without permission, it is covered under this section of the sexting laws in Colorado. This occurs if the recipient does the following with an image, even if the recipient did not request the image:

  • Display
  • Publish
  • Distribute

This crime also applies in situations where the poster should have known or knew that the person depicted in the images had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Penalties for Teen Sexting

For teens who are found guilty of exchanging sexts, they may only face civil infractions that can result in the completion of education programs and fines of up to $50, but the penalties only increase from there.

Penalties for Teen Sexting in Colorado


For those found guilty of possession, they can face petty offense charges that result in up to 180 days in jail. However, possession can also be elevated to a Class 2 misdemeanor if they have 10 or more images of three or more people. If found guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor, they can face time in jail of up to one year and fines of as much as $1,000.

Posting is also a Class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and fines of up to $1,000. However, it can be elevated in certain circumstances to a Class 1 misdemeanor. In that case, it could send them to jail for 18 months and up the fines to $5,000.

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 recognized by countless legal organizations for his exemplary defense work, including Avvo, Best DWI Attorneys, Expertise, Lawyers of Distinction, The National Trial Lawyers, and others. He was also named one of the 10 Best in Client Satisfaction in Colorado by the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys for 2020, and is Lead Counsel rated.