H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.

Articles Posted in Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child – Stings

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The recent conviction and mandatory life sentence of Broomfield High School wrestling coach Travis Masse demonstrates why the 1998 Colorado Lifetime Sex Offender Supervision Act goes too far.

A jury convicted the 29-year-old former teacher Tuesday of sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust, determining that he had sexual contact with the student on three occasions after the two exchanged sexually explicit text messages. There was no evidence that the relationship was anything but consensual – to the contrary there was no evidence of force.

As an experienced Colorado Criminal Defense Lawyer – I have discussed this law with many other practicioners – on both sides of the issue. There is considerable agreement among these men and women that Colorado sex-offender sentencing laws, which are the toughest in the nation, take away the primary justification for the election and periodic review of our judges – the responsibility for sentencing those convicted of crime.

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A new Colorado case issued by the Supreme Court of Colorado clarifies the law in Colorado in Sexual Assault on a Child Cases where there are multiple instances of conduct constituting a pattern. The decision allows for consecutive sentences for each act notwithstanding the fact that there has been a single victim.

Colorado’s sexual assault statutes authorize the possibility of greater punishments for sexual crimes against children that are committed “as a part of a pattern of sexual abuse.”

Two cases, “Colorado v. Simon” and “Colorado v. Tillery” were consolidated for the Supreme Court’s review in that they both involve interpretation of Section C.R.S. 18-3-405.3. The common issue presented by these cases was whether the statutory provisions and principles of double jeopardy permit only one class 3 felony conviction and sentence for a single “pattern” of abuse that comprises two or more incidents of sexual assault, or whether each separate act of sexual assault that composes a single “pattern” of abuse which may be elevated to a class 3 felony.

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Colorado Laws on Internet Luring – Sexual Exploitation – Are Being Enforced

August 2010 – A Douglas County Colorado Internet crimes investigation led to the arrest of a South Dakota man for Internet luring.

David W. Peterson, 48, was arrested Aug. 9 following a five-month Internet luring investigation that took place in the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Internet Crimes Against Children Unit. The investigation began in March when a detective from the Douglas County unit began chatting online with an adult male, later identified as Peterson. Peterson was led to believe he was sharing online conversations with a 14-year-old girl from Lone Tree. The conversations became sexual in nature and reportedly included obscene materials sent over the Internet from Peterson to the “victim.”

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Oklahoma

A Deltona woman plead guilty Wednesday to federal charges in a case that gained national attention. She allegedly traveled to Oklahoma to have sex with a 14-year-old boy she met online.

Annamay Alexander, 44, entered her guilty plea in the Oklahoma City Federal Court House. Alexander spared herself a trial by admitting during the hearing that she drove to the Oklahoma City area January 9th to have sex with the boy. According to her arrest report she met the boy through an online Sony PlayStation 3 virtual-reality game.

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Recent federal funding to the states has seen a major increase in the invesitgation and prosecution of internet sting cases. These cases are ripe for possible entrapment defenses but they must be evaluated carefully.

The average defendant in an Internet sex sting case is male (99 percent), white (92 percent), and older than 25 (86 percent). Few are violent in any manner. Some 97 percent acted alone in the crimes of which they are accused. Only 10 percent had prior arrests for sexually offending against minors.

Nearly every suspect – defedant in these cases believe they have been entrapped. But there is a difference between enticement and entrapment …in most cases the suspect will have been enticed and do not have the entrapment defense available to them.

“An officer can entice one otherwise disposed to commit a crime to commit the crime. That is different from entrapment, defined as an officer overcoming the will of an otherwise unwilling person to commit a crime. Assuming that the officer did not initiate contact with the defendant and didn’t initiate the sexual discussions nor do anything that caused the defendant to do something he wouldn’t have done if he had not been tricked or coerced, the actions are likely legal. Investigation into these types of police behavior is important, however, and hence should be pursued. ”

New York Lawyer Anthony J. Colleluori, a New York and Long Island trial nd appellate lawyer has written extensively in this area … he writes:

“These cases are very difficult. The results of losing them can mean far more than a conviction and jail. It opens the client up to being listed on the sex offender registry for life and could in some cases expose the client to the risk of life in a mental institution after he is released from prison. Less than 1 percent of these cases are won by the defense at trial, and fewer than 12 percent are even brought to trial. Counsel must provide a hearty defense while at the same time working to negotiate a reasonable way out of the matter without the case coming to trial.

If that is not possible, it will take all of counsel’s resources to secure victory in these cases. Major hurdles for trial lawyers include careful jury selection and the correct and comfortable use in the courtroom of language related to sex. Failure to strongly pursue a defense will spell disaster for the client. Lawyers not steeped in forensics and computer jargon and usage should consider taking on an attorney who can help with these technologies and, if necessary, act as second seat or even lead counsel should the case need to go to trial.”

H. Michael’s Take

These internet “sting” cases are the result of police officers, men and women, trolling the chat rooms for individuals seeking to meet others. These officers often enter adult chat rooms, hook their prey and reel them in … The entrapment defense can be raised in these cases (see my page on entrapment law) however these cases — by their very nature– are set up to prove in court.

The recent rash of Internet stings in Colorado, conducted by various police departments, introduces a trap – otherwise known as a young girl looking for company – in a chatroom, and lures the unsuspecting young males into a personal meeting with the provocative assumedly 14-year old girl after several hours over many days of chatting online.

The undercover agent is most often a seasoned male or female police officer. The tone of the conversation is nothing short of “enticing erotica.”

In my 26 years as a Colorado Criminal Law attorney, I’ve never seen methods quite like this used before. All potential defenses to the charges, including entrapment and outrageous government conduct.

Who Gets Stung?

Studies show that the majority of arrests resulting from Internet stings fashioned in a manner similar to those being conducted in Colorado are of white thirty-something year old home-owning males with incomes of at least $73,000 per year.

Interestingly enough that is the exact same profile of the most frequent user of the Internet and the source of the majority of Internet commerce.

If you have been arrested for an Internet sex crime or you believe you may be under investigation by the police for an Internet sex crime, get immediate legal help. Contact us your freedom may be at stake.

The penalties for any sex crime are severe, especially if you must register as a sex offender for the rest of your life. But the personal costs of an Internet sex crimes charge can be just as serious as the criminal costs. It is embarrassing and harmful to family and marriage. If your job requires professional licensure, a security clearance, or involves children, you may lose your job. You may not be allowed to live within a certain distance of a daycare, playground, or school. Even high school kids can be convicted of Internet sex crimes and placed on the sex offender registry.

At The Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Lw Firm we understand how difficult and stressful this is. We tackle your case aggressively but with discretion and sensitivity. Our goal is to minimize the negative consequences of the Internet sex crime charge or conviction and to get the best possible outcome, given the facts of your case.
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