There are a flood of arrests and prosecutions occurring nowadays in connection with alleged child pornography taking place on the Internet. A student at the University of Colorado is one of the latest individuals accused of sex offenses involving the use of the Internet. From a defense point of view, such allegations are sometimes exaggerated beyond the actual occurrences. The potentially devastating penalties may be difficult to justify where the accused has not engaged in any in-person contact with the purported minor.
The student was arrested after police allegedly received information from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC). The alleged information was that he was talking on the phone and computer with an underage girl out-of-state. Police allege that NCMEC informed them that the young man asked the girl to send him sexually explicit photos.
The defendant is a native of Oman. He is now in custody in lieu of $10,000 bail, but if released his passport will be confiscated. Authorities have not revealed the age of the girl, nor is it completely clear whether she was actually a minor or instead an undercover agent working to find adult men who would enter into a relationship with the object of having them prosecuted. Furthermore, defense counsel in this case may be able to defend on the basis that the accused did not know the girl’s actual age. That becomes a particularly important defense considering the long-distance nature of the allegations, and that the accused is a student not much older than 18 years himself.
The police searched the man’s house and found what they allege to be evidence of child pornography involving the purported underage female, along with alleged sexually explicit conversations with her on the computer. Under Colorado law and constitutional requirements, the authorities must prove each element of the alleged sex offenses with credible and admissible evidence beyond a reasonable doubt. If the defendant did not intend to commit a criminal offense and there is doubt that he could do so under the circumstances, then the law requires that the charges be dismissed.
Source: thedenverchannel.com, “CU student from Oman arrested on child porn charges”, , Sept. 12, 2014