Explain exactly what Sexual Exploitation of a Child (CRS 18-6-403) is in non-legal terms?
Sexual Exploitation of a Child is also called and known as child pornography in Colorado. It consists of all accusations or instances where someone has pictures of children who are undressed in some way or completely nude and are usually pictures that depict children involved in sex acts. This is referred to as sexually exploitative material by the Colorado Revised Statutes (CRS). Child pornography shows pictures of children, juveniles, or minors involved in sex acts and does not necessarily encompass all pictures that include an undressed child.
What is the difference between pictures that include child nudity and sexually exploitative material?
Any picture that shows a child under eighteen engaging in a sex act or a position that is meant to stimulate some sort of sexual arousal is defined as child pornography and the individual in possession of the picture can be charged with sexual exploitation of a child. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference, but an experienced sex crimes lawyer can make you aware of the subtleties that lie in the middle of the law. To avoid any type of criminal charge, do not possess or view any pictures that include child nudity regardless of origin, intent, or reason.
How do Police see what someone has on their computer or cell phone?
Typically, there are two ways that Colorado police can see people’s personal files or computer. Peer to peer networks, like LimeWire, are a great place for police to investigate when they are searching for evidence of child pornography. People will announce that they have child pornography, unaware that the police may be watching. Police will then search common child pornography file names and look up files that have hidden picture traits or codes that are not visible because this usually tips people off that it is child pornography. The police then are able to contact the ISP’s of the people involved in the file sharing and track that to a home. Recently in Adams County, we had a case where the computer was tracked by police in just that way because they were able to trace the files downloaded off of LimeWire. A more direct way to discover child pornography comes from a search warrant usually issued because of suspicion of another sex crime involving children and which enables the police to take the computer to search. Sometimes, this happens because police set up stings to catch people in sexual chat rooms and pretend to be children. Even if child pornography is not the main charge, they can still add that on if their search yields any results. Simply deleting a file is not enough in those cases, because it is very rare that a deleted file is actually gone and not just buried somewhere in the hard drive but still completely accessible.
How do deleted pictures count towards charges in a criminal sex case?
Pictures that are put in the “recycle bin” still exist on the hard drive, even if the original Windows link to the file is gone. Forensic and computer specialists have software that can bring back pictures and images hiding in what is called “un-allocated space.” The only case in which that will not work is if the computer has overwritten the image completely or the hard drive is completely wiped; otherwise, anything ever seen or downloaded is available to the police who know how to look for them. In cases like that, the government can still say that even though the picture is deleted it was possessed at one time and is technically still possessed as long as it is on the computer. Sometimes the purchase of a used computer is dangerous; as people could unknowingly purchase computers with child pornography downloaded on them at one time and still be held accountable for what is contained on the hard drive. We have successfully defended people charged with this crime when it was discovered that they had no idea it existed even though it was in their possession.
What is some good advice from a Colorado lawyer / attorney about Child Pornography and the charge of Sexual Exploitation of a Child?
A while back, we worked on a case in Boulder, Colorado, that involved a young man who was under eighteen who had looked at pictures of kids his own age. The police still counted that and charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, even though the defendant was a child himself. No one of any age group is permitted to look at sexually oriented pictures involving children under eighteen in Colorado. Even if the files or images are downloaded accidentally or without knowledge the owner of the computer, the person in possession of the images will still be held accountable. Peer to peer or file sharing sites are risky. Downloads are not safe either, as sometimes a file could contain child pornography without the knowledge of the receiver. Never send and never allow yourself to receive any type of picture via cell phone or computer that includes child pornography. “Sexting” is a dangerous new crime that is overtaking children all over the nation. This seemingly fun and flirty way of communicating over a cell phone may seem innocent or private, but if the picture shows someone under eighteen then the recipient can be charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child.
Be aware of what is being sent over the airwaves of technology. Know what is on your cell phone and what pictures you and your kids may be receiving. Avoid a felony sex crime charge and protect yourself.
If you’re facing any of these charges in Denver, Jefferson, Arapahoe, Adams, or Douglas county area in Colorado, call the O’Malley Law Office at 303-830-0880 or fill out the “Get Help Now” form on the side of this page. Together, we can protect your future.