February 2, 2023
Members of the Cherry Creek School District have read unsettling headlines in the past few weeks. A bus driver in the community was charged with internet luring of a child. The man is currently on administrative leave.
An undercover officer posing as a 14-year-old girl connected with the bus driver on the Whisper app. In addition to sending sexual messages to the supposed teenager, he agreed to pick her up from school and “see where it goes from there.” He is now facing years behind bars for this felony charge.
Internet luring charges could land you on the Colorado sex offender registration, a penalty that can quite possibly follow you for the rest of your life. Understand the laws surrounding this sex crime and know how to fight back if you have been charged.
What Is “Internet Luring?” in Colorado
The man from Cherry Creek School District never met up with the undercover officer but is still being charged for his intentions to do so. What acts or texts pushed him over the line into allegedly committing a crime?
Colorado (in statute 18-3-306 C.R.S) defines Internet Luring of a Child as knowingly using the Internet, any data network, texts, or instant messages with a child to describe “explicit sexual conduct” and inviting that person to meet up with them.
Colorado law defines explicit sexual conduct as:
- Sexual intercourse
- Erotic fondling
- Erotic nudity
- Sexual excitement
In this definition, a “child” is any person who the defendant knows or believes to be under the age of 15. Exceptions to this case are made if the defendant is less than four years older than the “child.” (A 17-year-old cannot be charged for this crime if they are caught “luring” a 14-year-old, for example.) The defendant does not have to meet up with the child, however, in order for their communication to be considered a crime.
Colorado’s Penalties for Internet Luring
In most cases, Internet Luring of a Child is a class 5 felony in Colorado. If convicted, defendants may face the following penalties:
- One to three years in prison
- Up to $100,000 in fines
There are a handful of scenarios in which your charges — and in turn, these penalties — may be enhanced.
When Charges for Internet Luring of a Child Increase
Charges may increase to a class 4 felony if law enforcement officers believe that the defendant was luring a child in order to sexually exploit them. Sexual expolitation of a child includes the acts of creating or distributing child pornography.
Defendants who intended to engage in sexual contact (as opposed to sexual conduct) may also be subject to class 4 felony charges. Colorado defines “sexual contact” as:
- Touching of the child’s intimate parts
- The child touching the defendant’s intimate parts
- Touching of clothing covering the immediate area of the child’s or defendant’s intimate parts for sexual arousal, gratification, or abuse
The texts exchanged between the “child” and the defendant could make a big impact on how long the defendant could spend in jail if convicted. Penalties for a class 4 felony in Colorado include:
- Two to six years in prison
- Up to $500,000 in fines
- Mandatory registration as a the Colorado sex offender
Sex offender registration requires more than just having your criminal history placed on the Internet for employers and neighbors to see. Registrants have to continually re-register, alert law enforcement if they travel, and may be restricted from living in certain areas or obtaining certain jobs.
Defense Strategies for Colorado Internet Luring Charges
As you can see, the penalties for a class 4 felony can be up to “five times” as serious as a class 5 felony. If you have been accused, you could try and reduce charges (and penalties) as a defense strategy. When prosecutors cannot prove that you had intentions of producing pornography with the child you were allegedly luring, your penalties may be reduced.
This is not the only defense strategy that could reduce (or even eliminate) potential penalties. You may be able to argue that undercover officers used entrapment or duress to lure you into attempting to meet up with the “child” on the other end of the text or instant messages. False accusations and lack of evidence may also let you off the hook.
What is most important is that you fight back against Internet luring charges. Sex crimes against children are taken very seriously in Colorado – without a fight, you could face years in prison and even more time on the sex offender registry.
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 for his exemplary criminal and DUI defense work and high moral standards.