In today’s day and age, more and more people – including young children – use the internet, social media, and smartphones to stay connected. With that, we also have more and more people attempting to lure those children into inappropriate situations.
Brian Vasquez, a 34-year-old middle school teacher from Arapahoe County, is currently facing 31 felony charges “relating to his alleged physical abuse of and exchanging nude photos with several students.” Vasquez’s charges include “11 counts of sex assault on a child by a person in a position of trust; 10 counts of sex exploitation of a child – inducement or enticement; eight counts of sexual contact – coercion of a child; and two counts of internet luring of a child with intent to exploit.”
In July, Malcolm Goings, a 21-year-old man from Colorado Springs, was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a 13-year-old child he had met online. Goings was brought to the El Paso County Jail and is currently facing sexual exploitation of a child, internet luring of a child, and sexual assault on a child charges.
These two incidences, along with others, bring up a number of questions regarding internet luring: What is it? What are the consequences? How can you fight back if you find yourself facing these charges?
Let’s answer those questions now.
What Is Internet Luring According to Colorado Law?
Section 18-3-306 of the Colorado Revised Statutes describes the crime of internet luring.
The law explicitly states:
An actor commits internet luring of a child if the actor knowingly communicates over a computer or computer network, telephone network, or data network or by a text message or instant message to a person who the actor knows or believes to be under fifteen years of age and, in that communication or in any subsequent communication by computer, computer network, telephone network, data network, text message, or instant message, 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, and the actor is more than four years older than the person or than the age the actor believes the person to be.
For the purpose of this crime, “explicit sexual conduct” means sexual intercourse, erotic fondling, erotic nudity, masturbation, sadomasochism, or sexual excitement, and “in connection with” means communications that further, advance, promote, or have a continuity of purpose and may occur before, during, or after the invitation to meet.
In other words, it is against the law to discuss explicit sexual conduct online or by the other methods listed in the statute with a child who you believe to be under 15 when you are more than four years older than the child and you try to meet that child.
As long as these conditions are met, you can be charged with internet luring of a child even if the child isn’t actually 15 and the meeting doesn’t actually occur. You just have to believe that the child is under 15 and suggest a meeting for this law to apply.
What are the Penalties for Internet Luring?
Internet luring of a child is a class 5 felony, which is punishable by one to three years in prison and a $1,000-$100,000 fine.
Luring of a child can potentially be a class 4 felony if it is committed with the intent to meet for the purpose of engaging in sexual exploitation or sexual contact. Class 4 felonies are punishable by two to six years in prison and a $2,000-$500,000 fine.
Depending on your intent for meeting the child, you may or may not have to register as a Colorado sex offender.
If you are convicted of internet luring of a child as class 5 felony, you do not have to register as a sex offender. However, if you are convicted of internet luring of a child as a class 4 felony with the purpose of meeting for sexual exploitation or contact, you will have to register as a sex offender, which comes with a number of other consequences besides imprisonment and fines.
How Can I Beat Internet Luring Charges?
The best way to beat charges of internet luring is with the help of an experienced Colorado criminal defense lawyer. Your lawyer will look at the facts of your case and determine the best defense strategy related to your unique situation. Poking holes in the prosecution’s case and showing that you didn’t meet all the conditions set forth in the law will be your attorney’s focus in getting your charges reduced, dropped or dismissed.
If you are currently facing internet luring charges, reach out to a knowledgeable attorney today.
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 and 2013 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.