Ali Alexander, the right-wing activist who faces a police report in Johnstown, Colorado, alleging he sought "d--k pics" online from teen boys, could face 2-6 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,00 if tried and convicted of solicitation of a minor.
The Daily Dot broke the story of Alexander's online interactions with minors on April 19 and followed one week later with a story about a police report being filed in the case. It remains unclear if charges actually have been pressed against Alexander.
The official definition of the Online-Solicitation offense in Colorado is called Internet Luring of a Child, and the crime is codified in section 18-3-306 of the Colorado Revised Statute.
As we noted in a recent post, Alexander has extensive political and legal ties to Alabama (including to prominent GOP figure Karl Rove, who long has been politically active in the state). Alexander has a history of attacking progressive voices in the state, including retired attorney/activist Dana Jill Simpson, along with Legal Schnauzer and me.
Clifton Black, a sex-crimes attorney in Colorado Springs, Colo., has written online about elements of the offense Alexander likely would face if prosecuted. Based on Black's words, it appears Alexander might have enough problems on his hands that he won't have time for harassing people who dare speak out in support of progressive ideas. Writes Black:
The internet is a great place to meet new people. But using this technology to send sexually explicit messages and photos in an attempt to lure a child is illegal in Colorado. Law enforcement routinely monitors the internet, so you can easily get caught during a sophisticated sting operation.
Very little needs to happen for prosecutors to convict you of the offense. If you meet with a minor after sending explicit messages, even if you had no intention of engaging in sexual activity, you have likely broken the law and can face possible conviction.
As for legal specifics, Black writes:
Online solicitation of a minor is officially known in Colorado as Internet Luring of a Child. The crime is codified in section 18-3-306 of the Colorado Revised Statute, and it involves an adult making sexually explicit comments to a minor with the intention of meeting up and engaging in those acts.
Chat rooms are not the only place where the offense can take place. You can be charged if you lured a child through text messages, phone calls or social media. Prosecutors must prove the following element to convict you of the offense.
- You knowingly communicated using a computer, computer network, telephone or data network, text message or instant message
- You knew or were led to believe the individual was younger than 15
- You are four years older than the individual’s believed age
- You communicated sexual content
- You invited the individual to meet you for any purpose
The Colorado statute is unwieldy and filled with legalese, but Black breaks it down into everyday language:
Sexual content can include intercourse, masturbation, sexual fondling or sending sexually explicit photos. The court will not care if the child lied about their age, nor will they care if the meeting never took place. Simply believing the child was younger than 15 or suggesting a meeting is enough to be charged.
That sounds like prosecutors would have a chargeable case against Alexander, based on the words attributed to him in his online interactions with minors. Black then discusses possible penalties upon conviction:
Colorado takes the safety of its children seriously, and heavily penalizes crimes involving children. Charges and penalties for online solicitation of a minor depend on the intent of the meeting.
Luring a child with the intention to engage in sexual activity is a class 4 felony, which carries the consequences of:
- 2 to 6 years in prison
- 3 years of mandatory parole
- A fine between $2,000 and $500,000
- Mandatory registration as a Colorado sex offender
Luring a child through the internet without the intention of engaging in sexual activity is a class 5 felony in Colorado. A class 5 felony is punishable by the following:
- 1 to 3 years in prison
- A fine between $1,000 and $100,000
The court often fails to mention the collateral consequences entailing a felony conviction. You could lose your job, professional license, access to public benefits, the right to keep and bear arms and face chances of deportation. Not to mention the social stigma of being convicted of a sex crime. These consequences can have a far greater impact on your day to day life than time in prison and fines.