Colorado Sexting Laws

A comprehensive overview of the Sexting laws in Colorado.

Colorado teen sexting laws: Summary

To prevent Sex Offender Registration and felony convictions against teens. Colorado’s general assembly passed House bill 17-1302, a law that regulates sexting amongst teenagers. The new law is a tiered approach intended to separate abusive forms of sexting, including malicious distribution from the consensual electronic exchange of explicit photos and videos. It addresses and punishes posting without consent, possession, and the sharing of nudes amongst teens.

In short, the law labels it a criminal offense to knowingly display, publish or distribute any image of a minor, who is at least fourteen years of age or younger without permission. Furthermore, If the recipient did not solicit or request the image or photo and suffered emotional distress. Or the sender or poster knew or should have known that the person in the image has a Reasonable expectation of privacy, the sender/poster is guilty of a class 2 misdemeanor.

The charges may escalate to a class 1 misdemeanor if with intention to coerce, intimidate, threaten, or cause emotional distress, or if the sender/ poster posted three or more images of separate individuals. The charges may also escalate for offenders with previous records.

It is a petty offense to knowingly possess pictures or videos of anyone who is at least fourteen, or less than four years younger than the possessor without consent. If the possessor holds more than ten or more pictures depicting three or more separate individuals, the offense escalates into a class 1 misdemeanor.

Finally, any juvenile who knowingly sends nudes or private images of self to another who is four years younger or at least fourteen, with a reasonable belief that the recipient consented, or possesses media of another juvenile within the same age group is guilty of a civil infraction.

When does sexting become a felony in Colorado?

Based on the facts presented, the prosecution may suggest Felony Exploitation Charges if the accused conduct is not limited to petty offenses such as exchange and possession. What you need to remember is that Colorado sexting laws -only address three offenses related to minors. i.e exchange, possession, and posting.

Adult to adult sexting is legal in Colorado, but if a minor is involved and there is the exchange of explicit photos or videos, the actions are a violation of State and Federal Pornography laws.

Can a teen be tried as an adult for sexting in Colorado?

If the minor is accused of class 1 or class 2 felony and has a history of delinquency, the offense is severe, or if the offender turns 18, the teen will likely face charges as an adult.

The prosecution may bring charges, including:

  • Possession with intent to distribute child porn.
  •  Manufacturing for publication or distribution of child porn through electronic device
  •  Possession, or control of media depicting a minor
  • Solicitation/ causes a minor to engage in sexual activity to create sexual content.

Depending on the facts presented to the court, the teen may face class three, four, or class six felony charges.

Affirmative defenses for Colorado sexting laws

If you take reasonable steps to report or delete the image or video within seventy-two hours, or if the sending minor was threatened, intimidated, or coerced. You may use that as a defense

Colorado sexting punishment for teens

Under house bill 17-1302, teenagers charged for sexting may face house arrest, probation, a fine, placement in a county social services department, or detention in a juvenile facility.

If charged as an adult, the minor will face adult punishment including, registration into the state’s sex offender registry and jail time.

Remember, under Colorado law, anyone who entices or invites a minor under 15 or at least four years younger than the offender to engage in sexual activity, has committed Internet Sexual exploitation. It could be through text, in a chat room, or via messaging apps. The offender’s criminal history and the facts of the crime will determine if the minor has to register into the state’s sex offender registry. If the accused is found guilty of a serious sexual felony, he may have to register.  Federal charges may also come into play, keep reading to find out why. 

Colorado adult sexting laws

Under Colorado sexting laws, it is not a crime for consenting adults to share explicit texts, videos, or pictures, however adult to minor or minor to adult exchange may constitute child porn or solicitation of a minor.

Section 18-3-306 Internet Luring of a Child is Colorado’s version of Online Solicitation of a minor. The law makes it a crime to lure a teen through text messages, social media, or phone calls.  The law works under the presumption that (1) the offender knowingly sent messages, calls, or other communication using an electronic device. (2) The offender knew – or should have known that the individual was under 15.

(3) The offender knew that he was four years older than the victim’s believed age. (4) the communication was sexual. (5) The offender invited the minor to meet for any purpose.

Sexual exploitation of a child

The age of consent in Colorado is seventeen, because of that, anyone below eighteen cannot legally consent to the sharing and creation of explicit photos or content. That means if a minor sends sexually explicit images to an adult, both individuals may face child porn charges.

Colorado revised statutes section 18-6-403, 18-6-404, and 18-3-405, prohibit the enticing, permitting, inducing, or causing a child to engage in sexual conduct. Sexual exploitation of a minor is a class 3 felony in Colorado, punishable by four to twelve years in prison.

Procurement of a child for exploitation is also a class 3 felony, and Internet Sexual Exploitation of a child is a class 4 felony, punishable by two to six years behind bars.

Federal sexting laws

Colorado sexting laws say that it is no longer a crime for juveniles above fourteen to send and receive sexually explicit texts and videos if there is consent. However, under federal sexting and child porn laws, the exchange of explicit materials amongst minors is prohibited.

What that means is a teenager found in possession of photos or videos of anyone below 18, may face federal charges. Federal charges include possession, distribution, enticement to create child porn, and the creation of child porn. On the federal level, crimes including sexual exploitation of children, coercion and enticement, materials depicting the sexual exploitation of minors, transfer of obscene materials, and obscene representation of children, carry prison sentences ranging from 10 to 40 years. View our writeup on Federal Sexting Laws.

Colorado sexting punishment for adults

Adults or teens tried as adults for sexting often face sexual exploitation charges. The court may impose a twelve or more years prison sentence and fines up to $750,000. If the offender has previous convictions, the punishment may escalate.

What about unsolicited/nonconsensual sexting?

If you are receiving nudes, explicit texts, or if an ex shares intimate photos of you in a private moment. You may take civil action under Revenge Porn or Colorado harassment laws.

Colorado sexting laws, revenge porn, and voyeurism

Colorado revised statute Title 18. Criminal code 18-7-107. Reads in part, quotean actor who is eighteen years of age or older commits the offense of posting a private image for harassment if he or she posts or distributes through the use of social media or any website any photograph, video, or other image displaying the private intimate parts of an identified or identifiable person eighteen years of age or older or an image displaying sexual acts of an identified or identifiable person”

The law says that anyone who knowingly, with intent to intimidate, coerce or harass, and without the depicted individual’s consent, posts a private image is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor. The law works under the assumption that the poster or sender knew or should have known that the depicted person had a reasonable expectation of privacy.

A class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to six months in prison and/or a maximum $5000 fine.

What to remember

  • If the victim of a child porn offense is a minor, the offender may face felony charges.
  • The victim must suffer emotional distress for the perpetrator to be convicted.
  • Posting or sharing a private image via text or other electronic device is a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Posting a private image for monetary gain is a class 1 misdemeanor.

Colorado sexting laws and Voyeuristic acts

18-3-405.6 CRS “Invasion of Privacy for Sexual Gratification” is Colorado’s voyeur law that makes it a crime to take intimate photos of anyone without consent. Depending on the facts presented, the offender may face misdemeanor or felony charges.

The punishment is at least two years in prison or a fine that might exceed $100,000. 00

What to remember

  • ‘Up skirting’ or taking  nude photographs with a concealed device is a punishable offense in Colorado.
  • Invasion of privacy is a class 1 misdemeanor.
  • Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification is a class 6 felony if the victim is under 15.

Navigating these laws on your own is difficult, we recommend consulting with an experienced local defense attorney today.

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