I used to wonder what kind of person gets charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child, C.R.S. 18-6-403. After many years as a Criminal Defense Attorney in the Denver Metro area, I have gained a unique insight into that question. Today I know that many innocent people are charged with this crime.
Monitoring a Ton of Internet Information is Impossible
The majority of people living in Jefferson and Arapahoe County own home computers containing trillions of bits of information. With all that data, the average person has no idea what is contained in the information pouring into their computers – by their use or when a friend or family member uses it. Furthermore, there is no practical way to check the contents at any given point in time. It is like someone saying that you must make sure the word butterfly is not found in a huge library which receives thousands of new books every day.
Elements of Sexual Exploitation of a Child
A person commits Sexual Exploitation of a Child in Adams and Douglas County or anywhere in Colorado when he or she knowingly causes a child to participate in making sexually exploitive material, or publishes, possesses, or controls sexually exploitive material. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors do not spend much time trying to figure out how it got there. If child materials is found, they make an arrest and file charges with little regard to a very important element of this crime, which is “knowingly”.
Possession Without Knowledge is Not a Crime
There are several ways an average person can end up in possession or control of illegal pornographic material without knowing it. When you purchase a computer or any device containing electronic storage, new or used, you have no idea what information is already there. Even if images have been deleted, they can still remain on the device until they are overwritten. Prosecutors in Weld and Baca County will file charges when deleted illegal images are found.
Another common way for illegal material to end up on your computer is by letting someone else use it. Again, even if the user deletes the material, or simply views it, the images may remain on your computer forever.
File sharing is another way to unknowingly download pornography involving a child. There are thousands of file sharing sites and most of them are legitimate. Unfortunately, they are also used for illegitimate purposes and sometimes good people get sucked in. Folder titles can be deceptive. An unsuspecting person may copy a folder titled MOUNTAIN SCENES and find out later he or she unintentionally downloaded thousands of illegal images. Since law enforcement agencies track child images on the internet, the first notice to someone that he downloaded prohibited material may be a police officer’s knock on the door.
If you are charged with Sexual Exploitation of a Child anywhere in Colorado we can help. Be smart, exercise your right to remain silent (don’t talk to police), and call us at 303-731-0719. Together we can protect your future.