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Colorado's Internet sex crimes laws notoriously lenient

Are Colorado's laws governing sexual predators too lenient? Some investigators believe so, as many people convicted of sex crimes are allowed to serve probation instead of jail time for their Internet sex offenses. The problem, investigators say, lies in the lack of a legal infrastructure for punishing those who are accused of Internet violations. Even though federal regulations mandate jail time in many similar cases, the state system simply has not had the time to catch up with these relatively new technological developments.

Advocates say that alleged sex offenders often re-offend in Colorado without major consequences because the law is simply too lenient. In one 2007 case, a man was arrested and charged with exploitation of a child and Internet luring. After that man plead guilty, he received a three-year probation term and was required to register as a sex offender. That same man was not sentenced to jail time until he was found guilty of a second violation in 2011.

The state has garnered such a reputation for leniency that sex offenders from other states are actually coming to Colorado to avoid aggressive prosecution. State attorneys say that several cases are now on the books in which someone has traveled from out of state to schedule an encounter with a teen girl. Although many of those offenders find themselves meeting up with officers instead of their intended romantic target, the state is still seen as a lenient option for certain individuals convicted of sex crimes.

Those accused of Internet sex crimes should have certain rights in criminal court. First-time offenders do not necessarily need to be subject to mandatory jail time. Instead, those accused of first-time sex crimes may benefit from probation and registration requirements designed to help them change their behavior.

Source:  7 News Denver, "Are Colorado's laws making it too easy for Internet child predators to reoffend?" Theresa Marchetta & Catherine Shelley, Apr. 25, 2014

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