The original BackPage site was seized more than a year ago by federal law enforcement. Still, that hasn’t spelled the end for Colorado’s online sex trade.
In fact, a Denver-market BackPage alternative, YesBackpage.com, surfaced quickly and continues to thrive today. Denver’s sex workers claim the original Backpage actually provided a level of safety traditional avenues of the practice simply can’t, so hopefully, this replacement does the same.
Safe or not, solicitation and prostitution is still illegal in Colorado, so if you or someone you love is participating in the Colorado sex trade, it’s important to understand the charges you could face and the penalities associated with conviction.
Solicitation for Prostitution in Colorado
Colorado’s statutes say solicitation for prostitution can go both ways – offering payment for sex or requesting money in exchange for it. Both are classified as a Class 3 Misdemeanor, which can carry a six-month jail sentence and between $50 and $750 in fines.
Patronizing a Prostitute in Colorado
Any person caught having intercourse or any other form of sexual contact with someone for money is considered to be “patronizing a prostitute.” Simply entering a location with intent to engage with a prostitute qualifies you as a patron in this state.
First-time offenders are committing a Class 1 Petty Offense. Convictions carry six months jail time and a $750 fine max. Get caught again and your jail sentence can triple, with fines maxing out at $5,000.
Charged for Prostitution in Colorado
On the other side of that transaction is the prostitute. Simply put, sex for money is prostitution. Legally, any legal adult who performs, offers, or agrees to sexual contact for anything of value can be charged as a prostitute. These are the charges associated with that:
Making a Display
What most people tend to think of when imagining a prostitute – walking the sidewalk, waving a car over, and so on – is legally referred to as “making a display.” It’s a Class 1 Petty Offense, often resulting in a six month jail sentence and a few hundred dollars in fines.
HIV/AIDS-Positive Test Results
Every conviction requires HIV/AIDS testing. If you test positive, and a Colorado court finds that you knew you were HIV positive during the commission of the crime, it automatically elevates charges to a felony and greatly enhances penalties.
- Class 6 Felony: Johns face 12 months-plus in jail, and fines can increase to $100,000.
- Class 5 Felony: Prostitutes are subject to three-years sentencing and $100,000 fine.
Victims of human trafficking, however, have an affirmative defense to prostitution. Many victims feel they had no alternative. If you are in this situation and don’t want to be, your attorney or any medical care provider can help.
“The Pimp,” “The Hustler,” “The Mack” in Colorado
These are all terms that mean the same thing – someone who solicits customers for prostitutes. Colorado refers to anyone who is “knowingly being supported by the earnings of another person’s prostitution whether an adult or child” as a pimp.
Pimping is a Class 3 Felony, which carries 4-12 years in jail – per charge – and up to $750,000 in fines. There are two additional crimes associated with pimping as well.
Keeping a Place of Prostitution
If you are found as overseeing a place used for prostitution, or you have granted use of a place as such, you could be charged with “keeping a place of prostitution,” a Class 2 Misdemeanor.
Even not reporting the use of your home is considered granting permission, which can land you up to a year behind bars and cost you a thousand-dollar fine.
Pandering is the legal term for either “intimidating a person into prostitution” or knowingly arranging the act with or without consent of the “prostitute.”
It’s a Class 5 Felony carrying a three year prison term and up to a $100,000 fine.
Note, any prostitution-related activity involving a child is a whole different set of crimes. Adults found guilty face some of the harshest penalties under Colorado’s prostitution statutes – a topic for another day, another time.
In the meantime, the Communications Decency Act (CDA) may protect owners of sites like YesBackpage (for awhile), but those utilizing prostitution sites thinly veiled as online dating services don’t have the same protections.
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.