Colorado CRS § 18-3-405.4 makes it a class 4 felony to commit internet sexual exploitation of a child. This is defined as using the internet or other online media to expose one’s intimate parts to a child, or to observe the child touching his or her intimate body parts. A conviction carries a penalty of
- 2 to 6 years in prison and
- registration as a sex offender.
CRS 18-3-405.4 states that:
(1) An actor commits internet sexual exploitation of a child if the actor knowingly importunes, invites, or entices through communication via a computer network or system, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message, a person whom the actor knows or believes to be under fifteen years of age and at least four years younger than the actor, to:(a) Expose or touch the person’s own or another person’s intimate parts while communicating with the actor via a computer network or system, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message; or(b) Observe the actor’s intimate parts via a computer network or system, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is internet sexual exploitation of a child in Colorado?
- 2. What are the consequences of a CRS 18-3-405.4 conviction?
- 3. Will the defendant have to register as a sex offender?
- 4. Will the feds bring criminal charges also?
- 5. How do you fight charges of internet sexual exploitation of a child?
- 6. Can the defendant be deported?
- 7. Can the record be sealed?
- 8. Related offenses
1. What is internet sexual exploitation of a child in Colorado?
A person violates CRS 18-3-405.4 when the following three conditions are true:
- The defendant knows or believes the child is under 15 years of age;
- The defendant knows or believes the child is at least 4 years younger than the defendant;
- The defendant deliberately lures the child through electronic media (such as use of the internet, social media, IM, SMS, or the phone) for the purpose of:
- the defendant exposing his/her own intimate parts to the child online; or
- observing the child online touch the intimate parts of him/herself or of someone else1
Colorado law defines intimate parts as:
- external genitalia,
- pubic area, and
In short, internet exploitation is cybersex with children. This sexual offense does not comprise sending naked pictures taken in the past. And it is more than just sexting. Instead, it is actively exposing oneself in real time.3
Also see our related article on sexual exploitation of a child – Colorado child pornography laws (CRS 18-6-403).
2. What are the consequences of a CRS 18-3-405.4 conviction?
Internet sexual exploitation of a child is a class 4 felony in Colorado, carrying penalties of:
- 2 to 6 years in Colorado State Prison, and
- A possible fine of $2,000 to $500,000.4
Convicted defendants are also required to register as a Colorado sex offender.5 And defendants lose their right to own or possess a gun.6
3. Will the defendant have to register as a sex offender?
Yes. People convicted of internet sexual exploitation of a child in Colorado must register as a sex offender for 10 years. After 10 years of full compliance, defendants may petition the court to relieve them of sex offender registration status.7
4. Will the feds bring criminal charges also?
Defendants suspected of internet sexual exploitation of a child may face federal charges for the “sexual exploitation of children” in addition to – or instead of – state charges. For instance, federal courts may claim jurisdiction if the computer materials were produced out of state, or if the child and defendant were in different states.
Federal penalties under 18 U.S.C. 2251 include fines and 15 to 30 years in federal prison. Penalties are even harsher if the defendant has certain prior sex crime convictions.8
5. How do you fight charges of internet sexual exploitation of a child?
Defenses to charges of internet sexual exploitation of a child fall into six basic categories:
- The defendant did not know or believe the child’s age;
- The defendant never enticed the child to expose, touch or observe any intimate parts;
- The law enforcement officers found the defendant’s computer, phone, or other electronic device through an illegal search;
- Another person used the defendant’s electronic device to sexually exploit the child, and the defendant was wrongly accused;
- The child or someone else falsely accused the defendant of this internet sex crime to the police; and/or
- The defendant is a victim of mistaken identity (for instance, the child wrongly picked the defendant out of a lineup).
6. Can the defendant be deported?
Internet sexual exploitation of a minor may qualify as a crime involving moral turpitude and an aggravated felony.9 Therefore, defendants convicted of this criminal offense may be deported from the U.S. after serving their sentence. But a skilled immigration and criminal defense attorney may be able to fight the case so charges get dropped or reduced to a non-deportable offense.
7. Can the record be sealed?
Convictions for internet sexual exploitation of a child may never be sealed from the defendant’s criminal record. But if the charge gets dismissed, then the defendant can petition for a record seal immediately.10 Learn more about Colorado record seals.
8. Related offenses
- Internet luring of a child (CRS 18-3-306)
- Indecent exposure (CRS 18-7-302)
- Enticement of a child (CRS 18-3-305)
- Aggravated incest (CRS 18-6-302)
- Unlawful sexual contact (CRS 18-3-404)
- Public indecency (CRS 18-7-301)
- Sexual assault (CRS 18-3-402)
- Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification (CRS 18-3-405.6)
- Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust (CRS 18-3-405.3)
- Child abuse (CRS 18-6-401)
- Solicitation for child prostitution (CRS 18-7-402)