People suspect that Colorado lawmakers are behind the times in Denver, Jefferson, and Arapahoe County. Many times, laws are in the books for years even though cultural changes indicate that the law now criminalizes acts that it never intended to, or at least not as harshly as they should be. The Adams, Weld, Larimer, and Douglas County charge of Sexual Exploitation of a Child (CRS 18-6-403) is a case in point.
When this law was written and then added to the Colorado Revised Statues, the prominence of cell phones was not known. Lawmakers were playing catch up with the internet and the sexual crimes being committed online. Now, children may be convicted of this serious sex crime when they “sext” (send naked pictures of themselves to) their girlfriends or boyfriends. Even more shocking, we've seen innocent recipients of such texts charged with a sex offense.
According to CRS 18-6-403, the statute that defines Sexual Exploitation of a Child, “sexual exploitative material” is defined as any: “photograph, motion picture, video, video tape, print, negative, slide, or other mechanically, electronically, chemically, or digitally reproduced visual material that depicts a child engaged in, participating in, observing, or being used for explicit sexual conduct.” At the time this law was written, most images of naked children were in the form of video tapes or negatives. These are a far cry from our instant photo sharing abilities of today. Lawmakers did not realize that as cell phones got smaller, more convenient, and popular, picture messaging and “sexting” would become prevalent. Surely they could not anticipate the consenting exchange of nude photos or pictures between cell phones belonging to minors.
Sexual Exploitation of a Child is a very common charge given to juveniles. Most teens are not educated in the law and do not realize that they are committing a serious felony when they sext pictures back and forth. Unintentionally receiving a picture depicteding a nude minor or a minor engaged in a sexual act criminally falls under the law as well. Any possession of child pornography is prosecuted by the law.
If police contact your child and want to charge them with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, be smart, exercise your child's right to remain silent, and contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the O'Malley Law Office at 303-830-0880. Together, we can protect your child's future.