In one of the first undercover prostitution stings of the year, Northern Colorado law enforcement officers made nine arrests and rescued one at-risk youth in Johnstown.
The arrests were made on January 5, although many of the people involved in the sting have already been let go. During the operation, officers posed as solicitors, responding to ads on escort websites for prostitutes. No solicitors were arrested in the sting, but multiple women – as well as a man suspected of human trafficking – were taken to jail.
There are many players in prostitution rings, including human trafficking victims – adults and minors – who may not be voluntarily prostituting themselves. How does Colorado distinguish who is a criminal and who isn’t? Who is punished and who is let go?
Let’s separate prostitution charges into three groups based on what side of the transaction the individual is on: solicitors (individuals buying time with prostitutes), pimps (traffickers, individuals who arrange prostitution deals), and the prostitutes themselves.
“Pimps,” “Johns” Face Most Severe Charges
One of the men arrested in the sting was Chauncey Scott Price. The 25-year-old dropped off two female prostitutes – one of them a minor and the other an adult – who had been set up to meet with an undercover officer. The women told police that Price had arranged the meeting and told the women he would take half of the money that they earned.
He was arrested on suspicion of pandering, pandering of a child, human trafficking for sexual servitude, and human trafficking of a minor for sexual servitude. Another man in the vehicle with Price was also arrested, but on charges unrelated to human trafficking.
Individuals who arrange prostitution deals on the behalf of others are commonly known as “pimps” or “johns.” In a prostitution sting, they are considered traffickers. Just like with drug crimes, human or prostitution traffickers receive the harshest charges for their crimes.
According to Colorado law, “A person who knowingly sells, recruits, harbors, transports, transfers, isolates, induces, entices, provides, receives, or obtains by any means a person for the purpose of coercing the person to engage in commercial sexual activity commits human trafficking for sexual servitude.”
Human trafficking of an adult for sexual servitude is a class 3 felony in Colorado. It is bumped up to a class 2 felony if the victim is a minor. In addition to jail time and fines, offenders also have to register as sex offenders in Colorado. If the victims are transported across state borders, the case may be given to federal court, and the alleged offenders may face even harsher penalties.
Prostitutes May Be Arrested and Released – But Not Always
There were two women riding with Price – a 17-year-old and an adult. The adult was one of seven women arrested in the Johnstown sting. All of them were issued summons for prostitution, but then released from jail. Why? Law enforcement officers involved in the case told news sources that they wanted to help victims and focus on going after buyers and traffickers like Price.
Don’t assume that law enforcement officials in our state always let those accused of prostitution off, however. Colorado law also says that “Any person who performs or offers or agrees to perform any act of sexual intercourse, fellatio, cunnilingus, masturbation, or anal intercourse with any person not his spouse in exchange for money or other thing of value commits prostitution.” In other words, acting as a prostitute is a crime, and a number of people are charged and convicted every year.
Naturally, these charges are not as severe as human trafficking – prostitution is a class 3 misdemeanor. However, prostitution charges may be increased if the prostitute has a history of criminal charges, or has engaged in sex acts while knowing they have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS.
What about Buyers?
The last group of people involved in prostitution are the ones who keep the business going – the buyers. Buying a prostitute, or soliciting a meeting, is also a class 3 misdemeanor in Colorado. If the prostitute is a minor, the charges will be bumped up to a class 3 felony.
Colorado guidelines call for offenders to be given extra heavy fines, which go to prostitute enforcement funds. For a class 3 misdemeanor solicitation charge, you may be saddle with a $5,000 fine. Class 3 felony charges bump this up considerable – to $750,000.
More on Colorado Prostitution Laws
There are many other crimes related to prostitution in Colorado, including:
- Keeping a place of prostitution
- Patronizing a prostitute
- Promoting sexual immorality
If you are convicted of any of these charges, you may end up on Colorado’s sex offender registry, a penalty that sticks with you even after you have served your time and paid any fines, and can make it incredibly difficult to find a job, get housing, or live any semblance of a normal life. To protect yourself and your future, call a knowledgeable Colorado criminal defense lawyer to start working on your defense strategy as soon as possible.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012-2016 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.