It's a much more dangerous world we live in today than sixty years ago. In the past, you could mentor nieces, nephews, siblings, and grandkids without fear of going to prison. This isn't true anymore. Now, you could be charged with the serious sex offense of Internet Luring of a Child in Denver, Arapahoe, or Douglas County. You may not believe me. But, as an experienced criminal defense attorney who specializes in sex crimes, I have a thorough understanding of this law. Let's look at how you can be charged with a sex offense for education or mentoring a child.
Mentoring Your Niece Could Lead to Sex Offense Charges
Let's say you have a 14-year-old niece, who you are close to. She's almost like a daughter to you, because her father is a single parent. You often offer a shoulder to cry on, and a source for motherly advice. One day, she calls you crying – she's being relentlessly teased at her Jefferson County school. Her peers are harassing her because she doesn't know the meaning of a few sexual phrases (including sadomasochism, which is a hot topic with the movie “Fifty Shades of Grey” about to be released) being tossed about by the other children. You have an honest conversation with her about the sexual phrases, explaining their meaning in a loving and educating way. At the end of the conversation, you suggest the two of you meet up for coffee at a Bow Mar coffee shop. You have just committed the crime of Internet Luring of a Child.
How Can an Innocent Person Be Charged with this Crime?
You still may not believe an innocent person with the best intentions can be charged with Internet Luring. So, let's look at the statute – C.R.S. 18-3-306. It says a person will be charged with this sex offense if they:
“Knowingly communicate” online, or over the phone, with a child under the age of 15, and in that communication, describe “explicit sexual conduct,” and in connection with that description, make a statement “persuading or inviting the person to meet” for any purpose.
In order to fully understand this law, we need to look at the definition of “explicit sexual conduct” as reference in C.R.S. 18-6-403 (2) (e), which is:
“Sexual intercourse, erotic fondling, erotic nudity, masturbation, sadomasochism, or sexual excitement.”
While it's true you discussed some of these terms with your niece, you didn't do so out of exploitation or manipulation – you love her. All you wanted to do was to help her in her time of guidance. Her father is too busy with his career and his other children, and doesn't know how to talk to his daughter about such delicate subjects. As her mother figure, you never imagined you could be charged with a felony sexual offense for trying to be there for your niece.[pullquote align=”center” textalign=”center” width=”80%”]You were trying to be there for your niece, but have now been charged with a sex offense.[/pullquote]
The Law is Broken: How We Can Fix It
The most notable element of the Internet Luring statute is the invitation to meet “for any purpose.” This is ridiculous. A person doesn't have to have the intent of sexual assault or any type of sexual actions toward the child in mind. In fact, like the woman mentoring her niece, the meeting can be for a completely innocent purpose, like grabbing coffee or ice cream and spending time together. There is no exception in the law for mentoring, education, or parenting. The best fix for this terrifyingly broad law is define the meeting's purpose as being for a sexual encounter, grooming, or sexual assault. Our legislature has written this law extremely poorly. Innocent people who only want to mentor and encourage children are in danger of being charged as sex offenders in Adams, El Paso, and Larimer County. If you have been falsely accused and charged with Internet Luring of a Child, don't hesitate to contact the best criminal defense lawyer for your case. Here at the O'Malley Law Office, we fight to win.Request a Free Consultation