Possession Of Child Pornography in CO: Is Only Viewing a Crime?

Child pornography is a crime with serious consequences. It is exploiting those who are most vulnerable in our society and is not viewed favorably by the court – including those who do not make or distribute but merely possess it. Yes, that’s right, viewing child pornography for sexual gratification, even if you’ve not produced or distributed it, is still a crime in Colorado – and a quite serious one.

If you’re facing child pornography charges in the state or have been accused of sexually exploiting a child, then it’s important to understand what the laws in the state say when it comes to these matters, plus the potential penalties you may be facing.

What Charges Are Often Related to Child Pornography?

First and foremost, it’s crucial to know that it is explicitly illegal in Colorado to produce, promote, or possess sexually explicit images of children under the age of 18, including videos or depictions.

That means you cannot possess any material that is sexually exploitative of a child engaging in some sexual acts nor can you contribute in any way to producing or distributing any material. It is illegal to knowingly and for any purpose induce, entice, permit, or cause a child to engage in sexual conduct to make child pornography or to arrange, publish, or prepare it in any way.

There are three charges someone can face if they are found with child pornography, including:

A child in Colorado is anyone who is under the age of 18

Is Simply Viewing the Material a Defense?

It is not a defense to say you simply viewed child pornography even if you were not involved in any other way. In fact, the only legitimate defense for solely viewing is if you did for purposes other than sexual gratification. You would need an alternative, underlying reason for viewing it.

What Penalties Can Be Faced for Child Pornography?

The penalties for child pornography, specifically the sexual exploitation of a child, depend on a few factors, such as:

  • Whether or not the images were still or moving
  • If you have a criminal history of this crime
  • If you were involved in the distribution or production of the material

The penalties for sexual exploitation of a child depend on how many items of child pornography you possess, as well as how many times you’ve been previously convicted.

First Offense

If you have fewer than 20 items of child pornography and it’s your first offense, then you can face as many as three years in prison and fines of $100,000. You will also be subject to a mandatory parole period of two years.

Second Offense (or More)

What Penalties Can Be Faced for Child Pornography in Colorado?


If it’s your second child pornography offense, you face a Class 4 felony charge that can result in as many as six years behind bars and fines of as much as $500,000. You also will be subject to a parole period of three years after release.

If you have been accused of possession of child pornography, then it’s vital to consult an experienced attorney.

Remember, cdild pornography charges can get you labeled as a sex offender. Not only do you need to understand the charges against you but also your right to exercise a robust defense if you are innocent of these charges.

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.