In July 2021, a Colorado lawyer had his license suspended for 18 months after he pleaded guilty to the promotion of obscenity to a minor. Sex crimes in Colorado carry serious penalties, including professional consequences that can destroy careers. If you’re a professional charged with a sex crime it is imperative you seek legal counsel immediately to preserve your career and reputation.
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Attorney Caught in Online Sting Gets Probation & Suspended License
Law enforcement agencies use sting operations to provoke illegal behavior from people they believe will commit a particular crime. In this case, the online sting operation involved internet crimes against children.
A Jefferson County detective posing as a 14-year-old girl exchanged messages with a Colorado attorney. After swapping a number of messages, the attorney sent the “teen” a nude photo of himself and agreed to meet her in person.
When the attorney arrived at the agreed location, Jefferson County Sheriff’s officers arrested him. The attorney was charged with internet sexual exploitation of a child. That’s a class 4 felony and carries an indeterminate prison sentence.
Colorado law defines internet sexual exploitation of a child as someone who uses a computer or a phone – including text and instant messaging – to badger, invite, or entice a child to:
- expose or touch their or someone else’s intimate parts, or
- look at the intimate parts of the accused
C.R.S. § 18-3-405.4
The attorney agreed to plead guilty to the promotion of obscenity to a minor and prosecutors dropped the internet sexual exploitation of a child charge. The obscenity charge is a class 6 felony in Colorado.
“A person commits wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor if, knowing its content and character, such person wholesale promotes to a minor or possesses with intent to wholesale promote to a minor any obscene material.” CRSA § 18-7-102(1.5)(a)
Consequences of the Crime
The attorney received four years of probation. His sentence also included various stipulations such as sex offender registration and offense-specific treatment. Additionally, the lawyer faced professional repercussions.
Suspension of Professional License
The Presiding Disciplinary Judge of the Colorado Supreme Court suspended the attorney’s license for a year-and-a-half. The judge noted that the attorney violated the Colorado Bar’s Rules of Professional Conduct.
“It is professional misconduct for a lawyer to commit a criminal act that reflects adversely on the lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness, or fitness as a lawyer in other respects.” Colo. RPC 8.4(b)
If the attorney wants to practice law in Colorado after his suspension, he must prove by clear and convincing evidence that he:
- has obeyed all disciplinary orders and rules
- is rehabilitated
- is fit to practice law
Consequences for Other Professionals
Attorneys are not the only professionals who face serious repercussions for sexual misconduct.
A new state law that took effect March 1, 2021, requires some licensed professionals to tell clientele they were convicted of, pled guilty to, or disciplined for sexual misconduct. C.R.S. § 12-30-115
Clients and patients must acknowledge they received the written disclosure and agree to be treated by the provider.
The disclosure must include specifics such as:
- the nature of the offense or conduct
- whether the provider pled guilty or was convicted
- the duration of the sentence or other penalties
- the length of probation
The law requires providers who will have direct contact with a patient or client to disclose discipline for unprofessional conduct or sex offense convictions defined by state law in section 16-11.7-102(3).
Those sex offenses can include, but are not limited to:
- sexual assaults
- unlawful sexual contact
- sexual exploitation of children
- indecent exposure
- internet luring of a child
- internet sexual exploitation of a child
- public indecency
- invasion of privacy for sexual gratification
The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies oversees dozens of licensed professionals. Many of them are required to follow the sexual misconduct disclosure law.
Some of those professionals include:
- therapists and counselors
- massage therapists
- occupational therapists
- speech-language pathologists
- respiratory therapists
- surgical assistants and technologists
Click here to browse a full list of professions supervised by the Department of Regulatory Agencies.
Does the Disclosure Ever End?
Yes. According to the law, professionals disciplined for sexual misconduct can discontinue the disclosures once they’ve met all of the requirements of their probation.
Here’s exactly what the law says:
“the requirement to disclose the conviction, guilty plea, or agency action ends when the provider has satisfied the requirements of the probation or other limitation and is no longer on probation or otherwise subject to a limitation on the ability to practice the provider’s profession.”
Get a Lawyer if You’re a Professional Charged with a Sex Crime
Having your license suspended or being forced to report a sex crime conviction or disciplinary action to clients will negatively affect your career. That’s why you should speak to a criminal defense attorney immediately if you’re a professional charged with a sex crime.