Child Pornography Laws in Colorado

Child pornography charges in Colorado prohibit the:

  • production,
  • promotion, and
  • possession

of any sexual images, videos, or depictions of children under 18 years of age.

Different Charges

Under Colorado law, there are three separate charges a person could face related to child porn. These include:

Defending Your Case

There are defenses to child pornography charges, and they may differ depending on the charges a person faces:

  • the person did not know he or she possessed the material;
  • the material was not for a sexual gratification purpose;
  • there was police misconduct in gathering the evidence; or
  • the "child" was 18 or older.

Below, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following frequently asked questions about child pornography charges for Colorado residents:

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Child pornography charges in Colorado prohibit the: production, promotion, and possession of any sexual images, videos, or depictions of children under 18 years of age.

1. What is sexual exploitation of a child under Colorado law?

Under CRS 18-6-403, a person commits the offense of sexual exploitation of a child when he or she:

  • possesses sexually exploitative material showing a child engaged in certain acts; or
  • contributes in any way to making or distributing such materials.

Specifically, Colorado law states:

(3) A person commits sexual exploitation of a child if, for any purpose, he or she knowingly:

    • (a) Causes, induces, entices, or permits a child to engage in or be used for any explicit sexual conduct for the making of any sexually exploitative material; or
    • (b) Prepares, arranges for, publishes, including but not limited to publishing through digital or electronic means, produces, promotes, makes, sells, finances, offers, exhibits, advertises, deals in, or distributes, including but not limited to distributing through digital or electronic means, any sexually exploitative material; or
    • (b.5) Possesses or controls any sexually exploitative material for any purpose; except that this paragraph (b.5) does not apply to peace officers or court personnel in the performance of their official duties, nor does it apply to physicians, psychologists, therapists, or social workers, so long as such persons are licensed in the state of Colorado and the persons possess such materials in the course of a bona fide treatment or evaluation program at the treatment or evaluation site; or
    • (c) Possesses with the intent to deal in, sell, or distribute, including but not limited to distributing through digital or electronic means, any sexually exploitative material; or
    • (d) Causes, induces, entices, or permits a child to engage in, or be used for, any explicit sexual conduct for the purpose of producing a performance.1

1.1 Who qualifies as a "child" under Colorado child pornography law?

“Child” means a person who is less than eighteen years of age.2

This is true no matter how close in age to 18 the child is.

1.2 How can I defend myself against this charge?

Some of the more common defenses to child porn charges include (but are not limited to):

  • the person did not know he or she possessed the material;
  • there was a legitimate reason for possession of the material (i.e., it wasn't for sexual gratification);
  • the touching in the material was not for sexual gratification – for example, it was a mother bathing her child;
  • the materials were found during an illegal search;
  • the “children” were 18 years of age or older;
  • the person was a licensed physician, therapist, or social worker possessing the material for the purpose of bona fide treatment or evaluation.

2. What are the penalties for sexual exploitation of a child?

Penalties for this charge depend on:

  • how many times a person has been convicted;
  • whether the pornography was still images or moving images; or
  • whether the person produced or distributed the material.

2.1 First Offense for Possession of Still Images

First-time possession of a small amount (less than 20 items) of child pornography in the form of photographs or other still images is a Colorado class 3 felony.

Consequences of a first-time conviction for possessing child porn in Colorado can include:

  • 1-3 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of $1,000-$100,000; and/or
  • mandatory parole period of 2 years.3

2.2 Second Possession of Still Images or Moving Images or Many Images

Sexual exploitation of a child increases to a Colorado class 4 felony if:

  • it is the person's second or subsequent offense; or
  • the child pornography consists of:
    • a video, motion picture, recording or broadcast of moving visual images' or
    • more than twenty different items qualifying as sexually exploitative material.4

As a class 4 felony, punishment for Colorado sexual exploitation of a child can include:

  • 2-6 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of $2,000-$500,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 3 years.

2.3 Production or Distribution of Sexually Explicit Material

If a person is involved in the making or distribution of child pornography in Colorado, he or she commits a Colorado class 3 felony.

As a class 3 felony, Colorado sexual exploitation of a child carries potential penalties of:

  • 4-12 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of $3,000-$750,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 3 years.5

3. What is procurement of a child for sexual exploitation?

A person commits the offense of procurement of a child for sexual exploitation under CRS 18-6-404 if:

  • a person in any way
  • makes a child available
  • for child pornography or prostitution.6

3.1 What acts are prohibited under CRS 18-6-404?

Any person

  • who intentionally gives, transports, provides, or makes available; or
  • who offers to give, transport, provide, or make available

to another person a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation of a child commits the offense.7 Each of these acts could lead to a guilty verdict for a charge of procurement of a child for sexual exploitation.

3.2 What are the penalties for procurement of a child for sexual exploitation?

If convicted, the defendant is guilty of a Colorado class 3 felony.

Penalties for procurement of a child for sexual exploitation can include:

  • 4-12 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of $3,000-$750,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 3 years.8

3.3 How can I defend my case against this charge?

Common defenses include but are not limited to:

  • the person never offered the child for a sexual purpose;
  • the person did not intend to make a child available;
  • evidence against the defendant was discovered during an illegal search; or
  • there was police misconduct (like a coerced confession or planted evidence).

4. What is internet sexual exploitation of a child under Colorado law?

A person violates CRS 18-3-405.4 when:

  • he or she knows or believes that someone is a child under 15 and at least four years younger than the person; and
  • he or she knowingly importunes, invites, or entices that child -- through communication via a computer network or system, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message -- to:
    • expose or touch his or her own intimate parts (or the intimate parts of another person) while the suspect communicates electronically with the child; or
    • observe the suspect's intimate parts via a computer network or system, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message.9

4.1 What are the penalties if I am convicted of internet sexual exploitation of a child?

Internet sexual exploitation of a child is a Colorado class 4 felony. Penalties can include:

  • 2-6 years in prison; and/or
  • a fine of $2,000-$500,000; and
  • mandatory parole period of 3 years.

4.2 How can I defend my case against this charge?

Some common defenses to sexual exploitation of a child include but are not limited to:

  • the person did not know or believe the child's age;
  • the person did not entice the child to expose, touch, or observe intimate parts; or
  • there was police misconduct, like an illegal search or seizure of the person's phone or computer.

5. Will I have to register as a sex offender if I am convicted of child pornography charges?

Yes. Conviction on charges of any of the child pornography charges listed above will require you to register as a sex offender on the Colorado Bureau of Investigation's felony sex offender registry.10

5.1 What happens if I fail to register as a sex offender as required?

Failure to register as a sex offender is a Colorado class 6 felony. Penalties can include:

  • a fine of $1,000-$100,000; and/or
  • 1 – 1.5 years of imprisonment.
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Call us for help...

For questions about Colorado child pornography laws or to confidentially discuss your case with one of our skilled Colorado criminal defense attorneys, do not hesitate to contact us. (For cases in California or Nevada, please see our pages on California child pornography laws and Nevada child pornography laws).

We represent clients in and around Denver, Colorado Springs, Aurora, Fort Collins, Lakewood, and several nearby cities.


Legal References:

  1. CRS 18-6-403 (Sexual exploitation of a child--legislative declaration--definitions).
  2. CRS 18-6-403(2).
  3. CRS 18-6-403(3)(b).
  4. CRS 18-6-403(3)(b)(I-II).
  5. CRS 18-6-403(5)(a).
  6. CRS 18-6-404 (Procurement of a child for sexual exploitation).
  7. Same as 6.
  8. CRS 18-1.3-401(V)(A.5) (Felonies classified).
  9. CRS 18-3-405.4 (Internet sexual exploitation of a child).
  10. If you were at least 18 at the time of the offense, you will be required to remain on the registry for a minimum of 20 years. If you were under 18, you may petition the court to have your name removed from the registry, but the court is not required to grant it.

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