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by Colorado Internet Sex Crimes Criminal Defense Lawyer – H. Michael Steinberg
The Crime of Colorado Internet Luring under 18-3-306 requires an mandatory indeterminate life sentence and is considered by many Colorado criminal defense lawyers – whose clients are the victims of out of control police and sheriff’s departments in Colorado managing wide ranging and well funded “sting” operations intent on targeting what may be individuals who are swept into the sting before they have any opportunity to withdraw from it.
A new case – People v. Douglas – points up the lines that can easily be crossed if the police officers acting as alter egos – take the “sting” too far.
Craig A. Douglas was charged with the Crime of Colorado Internet Luring under 18-3-306.
Douglas was a resident of Pennsylvania who began communicating via the Internet with an undercover officer who was physically in Colorado.
The sting consisted of a police officer holding himself out as the mother of a nine year old girl and negotiating with the defendant to arrange for him to come to Colorado to meet her daughter – when he did – he was arrested.
Douglas – on appeal – argued that his convictions had to be reveresed because:
‘The prosecution failed to present sufficient evidence to prove the elements of each offense beyond a reasonable doubt.”
The Colorado court of appeals agreed on two of the four charges – concluding that there was insufficient evidence to support his convictions for enticement and solicitation.
When appellate courts review cases on claims of insufficient evidence – the must review the evidence “in the light most favorable to the prosecution.” …. a very tough standard to overcome.
They then evaluate whether “the evidence is sufficient to allow a reasonable person to conclude that the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt on the elements of the offense charged.”
If the prosecution fails to present sufficient evidence of the offense charged, then double jeopardy prevents the prosecution from again trying the accused on the charge.
The defendant argued on appeal that there was insufficient evidence supporting his convictions for Internet luring of a child and Internet sexual exploitation of a child because there was no evidence that defendant himself committed the crimes or that he acted as an accomplice to a principal who committed the crimes. The court agreed with this argument.
In Colorado – a person commits the crime of Internet luring of a child if the actor knowingly communicates over a computer or computer network [or] telephone network . . . to a person who[m] the actor knows or believes to be under fifteen years of age and, in that communication or in any subsequent communication . . . describes explicit sexual conduct . . . and, in connection with that description, makes a statement persuading or inviting the person to meet the actor for any purpose . . . . § 18-3-306(1).
Section 18-3-405.4(1), provides, that a person commits the crime of Internet sexual exploitation of a child if the actor knowingly importunes, invites, or entices through communication via a computer network or system [or] telephone network . . . a person whom the actor knows or believes to be under fifteen years of age . . . to:
(a) Expose or touch the person’s own or another person’s intimate parts while communicating with the actor via a computer network or system [or] telephone network . . . ;
(b) Observe the actor’s intimate parts via a computer network or system [or] telephone network . . . .
Accomplice or Complicitor Liability In Colorado
The state relied – to prove the case – on a legal theory of responsibility called “complicitor liability.”
The DA argued that the defendant and mother were “complicitors in using this computer in order to arrange the sexual liaison with the child.”
Complicity is a theory whereby a defendant is legally accountable for a criminal offense committed by another person.
To be liable as an accomplice, an actor must aid, abet, advise, or encourage another person in planning or committing a crime with the intent to promote or facilitate commission of the crime. § 18-1-603.
Accordingly, to convict a defendant of complicity, it is necessary for the prosecution to prove that the underlying crime was committed.
A person is guilty of an offense committed by another person if he is a complicitor. To be guilty as a complicitor, the following must be established beyond a reasonable doubt:
1. A crime must have been committed.
2. Another person must have committed all or part of the crime.
3. The defendant must have had knowledge that theother person intended to commit all or part of the crime.
4. The defendant did intentionally aid, abet, advise, or encourage the other person in the commission or planning of the crime.
Since the prosecutor – provided no evidence that Douglas directly committed the crimes of Internet luring of a child or Internet sexual exploitation of a child as a principal and that the “mother,” while using a computer or telephone network, (1) knowingly described explicit sexual conduct to a child under fifteen years old and attempted to persuade that child to meet her or (2) knowingly importuned a child under fifteen years old to expose or touch the child’s own or another’s intimate parts or observe mother’s intimate – the prosecution failed to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an Internet crime was committed.
Therefore there was insufficient evidence to prove either that defendant was directly liable for the Internet crimes as a principal or that he was liable as an accomplice for mother’s commission of the crimes and the convictions for Internet luring of a child and Internet solicitation of a child were vacated.
If you have questions about Colorado Internet Luring Conviction – 18-3-306 – please contact the law offices of H. Michael Steinberg – at the numbers provided on this website.