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Freedom from Sexual Violence

2016 Legislative Session

HB16-1058 – Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile

URGENT ACTION IS NEEDED!

Ask the House to Amend HB16-1058 creating the crime Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile

This past Tuesday, March 15th, public testimony was given to the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee concerning HB16-1058, however, the committee motioned to postpone consideration of the bill with pending amendment(s) leaving the final vote delayed. Now WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT, before the final vote is taken, to contact members of the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee to URGE THEM TO SUPPORT AMENDMENT L.002 which would protect victims of abusive sexting from being charged with a the crime of Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile. A second amendment (L.004) has already been introduced and if adopted into the language of the bill, could have the potential to charge victims of abusive sexting with a petty offense for creating or possessing a sexually explicit ditigal image. Please contact members of the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee to share with them your concerns about how this bill might negatively impact survivors without the inclusion of Amendment L.002.

WHAT THIS AMENDMENT DOES:

L.002 aims to address sexually abusive behaviors while at the same time protecting:

  • youth who create their own sexually explicit image because they are coerced, intimidated, or harassed into making the image;
  • youth who consensually sext; and
  • youth who are the recipient of and possess a consensually shared sexually explicit image.

WHY IS THIS AMENDMENT NECESSARY?

  1. Victims of malicious and abusive sexting may be reluctant to report the crime out of fear that they themselves may be charged with a crime. Whether or not they are actually charged with a crime, the perception that they could potentially be charged may keep some victims from reporting. By amending HB16-1058 to include L.002, victims of malicious and abusive sexting will have greater access to reporting options without fear that they themselves may be charged with a crime.
  2. How will law enforcement determine the primary aggressor in cases where teens are coerced, threatened or intimidated into taking and sending a sexually explicit image of themselves? If criteria such as who sent the most images or who sent the most sexually explicit images are used, then victims could be determined to be the primary aggressor and, if charged with a crime, might not be eligible to receive Crime Victim’s Compensation benefits to access resources for emotional injuries sustained that may occur as a result of their victimization. By including L.002, victims of coercion, threat, or intimidation will be protected and will be eligible for Crime Victim’s Compensation benefits to access resources for emotional injuries sustained that may occur as a result of their victimization.
  3. Two 17-year-old teens could legally have sex but if they were to create a sexually explicit digital image of themselves, even for their own use, under HB 16 1058 they could be charged with the crime of misuse of an electronic image by a juvenile.  In the state of Colorado, the age of consent to participate in sexual activity is 17-years-old. Close-in-age exemptions also exist allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to engage in sexual intercourse with partners who are less than 10-years older, and minors younger than 15-years-old under this exemption are allowed to engage in sexual intercourse with those less than 4-years older. Close-in-age exemptions or “Romeo and Juliet laws” are designed to prevent the prosecution of underage couples who engage in consensual sex when both participants are significantly close in age to each other, and one or both are below the age of consent.[i] By including L.002, privately held images depicting lawful sexual activity would not result in criminal charges.
  4. The current bill does not adequately separate the abusive forms of sexting, such as maliciously distributing a private image, from the relatively harmless practice of consensual sexting.  A 2009 study conducted by the Crimes Against Children Research Center revealed that 7% of child pornography production arrests were made against consensually sexting teens. [ii] These cases did not involve adults or aggravating circumstances. Rather, these incidents involved pictures taken in romantic relationships or for sexual attention-seeking among adolescents.  Laws intended to protect children should not be used to punish them when the activity was mutually consensual and, therefore, there is no discernible victim.  L.002 supports a reduced criminal charge for juvenile sexting while protecting victims of abusive sexting and those who consensually sext from being unfairly prosecuted.

TAKE ACTION!

Please contact the members of the House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee before Monday, March, 21st and ask them to amend HB16-1058 creating the crime of Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile to include Amendment L.002. Members of the Public Health Care and Human Services Committee are listed below.

WHO SUPPORTS AMENDMENT L.002 TO HB 16 1058?

American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado

Amy A. Hasinoff, Assistant professor of Communication at the University of Colorado Denver and author of Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent (2015)

Colorado Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Colorado Criminal Defense Bar

Colorado Youth Matter

IMPACT Personal Safety of Colorado

One Colorado

Rocky Mountain Children’s Law Center

The Blue Bench

Safe Shelter of St. Vrain Valley

Full Circle of Lake County, Inc.

Public Health Care and Human Services Committee Members

Dianne Primavera, Chair: dianne.primavera.house@state.co.us; 303-866-4667

Jonathan Singer, Vice-Chair: jonathan.singer.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2780

Kathleen Conti: kathleen.conti.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2953

Jessie Danielson: jessie.danielson.house@state.co.us; 303-866-5522

Justin Everett: justin.everett.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2927

Joann Ginal: joann.ginal.house@state.co.us; 303-866-4569

Janak Joshi: janak.joshi.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2937

Lois Landgraf: lois.landgraf.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2946

Timothy Leonard: tim.leonard.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2582

Dominick Moreno: dominick.moreno.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2964

Brittany Pettersen: brittany.pettersen.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2939

Max Tyler: max@maxtyler.us; 303-866-2951

JoAnn Windholz: joann.windholz.house@state.co.us; 303-866-2945

If you happen to live in the district of a House Public Health Care and Human Services Committee member, please let them know you are a constituent and you vote! To find out who are your elected officials, please visit www.openstates.org.

Remember: Legislators respond to hearing how legislations will personally affect their constituents. If you feel comfortable including any personal or professional experiences with the barriers to justice created by Misuse of Electronic Images by a Juvenile, please consider sharing how this legislation would have made a difference in your life or in the lives of victims/survivors you know.

DON’T FORGET!

All pending bills require two public hearings in both the House and the Senate, as well as two Appropriations hearings (in both the House and the Senate) to determine if the state wants to allocate the financial resources necessary to implement the bill. Then the Governor must sign the bill, in order for it to become law. Watch for continual urgent action alerts as this bill moves through the legislative process. For more information about attending and/or testifying at a public hearing, please contact Raana Simmons, CCASA Director of Policy, at raana@ccasa.org or 303-625-9564.


HB16-1260 – Extend Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault

About

House Bill 1260, sponsored by Rep. Rhonda Fields and Sen. John Cooke, is designed to change the 10 year limitation on filing sexual assault charges without DNA evidence to 20 years.  HB 1260 is an effort to allow survivors greater access to the criminal legal system, should they choose to report. Currently, Colorado has no statute of limitations for sexual assault charges involving minor victims.   Rather, making such a report could be closer linked to the amount of support a survivor receives, the degree to which a survivor feels empowered to access the criminal legal system, and the options we, as a community, create and make available to survivors.

Key components of the bill:

  • The bill extends the statute of limitations of 10 years for felony sexual assault to 20 years.
  • The bill is not retroactive and will take effect on July, 1, 2016, applying only to offenses committed on or after said date.

Take Action!

This bill was passed unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday, February 11th.  The next step will have the bill presented before the entire House of Representatives.  Upon approval of the House, the bill will then proceed unto the Senate Judiciary Committee.  You can follow HB16-1260 – Extend Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault here as it moves along the legislature.

Talking Points

  1. Rape is the most underreported crime: an estimated 63 percent of sexual assaults are not reported to police. People do not report sexual assault for a variety of complicated reasons; survivors report when they’re emotionally ready. Those who do come forward often face scrutiny and are met with disbelief — even more so when the person who committed sexual violence is a person of influence — despite the rate of false reporting being consistently estimated between 2 and 8 percent.
  2. The 10-year criminal statute of limitations in Colorado bars many survivors from having the state bring charges against their rapists. As such, it protects offenders and allows them to operate without detection. Research indicates that adults who commit rape tend to commit multiple rapes, and many commit other sexual crimes as well.
  3. Statutes of limitations do not serve the best interests of survivors, nor do they serve the best interests of public safety. These roadblocks to justice serve no one but perpetrators, allowing them to continue their behavior virtually unchecked.
  4. Changes in technology may mean that evidence can be preserved, making prosecution possible. In today’s world of electronic communications, photos, videos, and surveillance camera records, it is reasonable to believe that a survivor might possess enough evidence to substantiate that something happened and that could corroborate placing the offender at the date & time the crime occurred.

Remember: Legislators respond to hearing how legislation will personally affect their constituents. If you feel comfortable including any personal or professional experiences with the barriers to justice created by Statutes of Limitations, please consider sharing how this legislation would have made a difference in your life or in the lives of victims/survivors you know.

Don’t Forget

All pending bills require two public hearings in both the House and the Senate, as well as two Appropriations hearings (in both the House and the Senate) to determine if the state wants to allocate the financial resources necessary to implement the bill. Then the Governor must sign the bill, in order for it to become law. Watch for continual urgent action alerts as this bill moves through the legislative process.

For more information about attending and/or testifying at a public hearing, please contact Raana Simmons, CCASA Director of Policy, at raana@ccasa.org or 303-625-9564.

2016 Legislative Fact Sheets

Policy Press Releases:

Policy Summary

2016 Policy Podcasts

CCASAPodcasts