What is Sextortion
‘Sextortion’ is widely known as an act in which one person uses sexually explicit material containing images of another person in order to force that other person into obedience, using the threat of publicizing the explicit materials as leverage. Quite often, the ‘obedience’ in question is assumed to be sexual in nature: perform sexually, or I’ll release these pictures of you online. “In Denver,” sex attorney Christopher T. Braddock points out, “No such crime exists.”
Of course, sextortion is still a criminal act — but how precisely you are charged depends a lot on what happened during the commission of the overall act. You may be charged with:
- Unlawful Sexual Contact, a Class 1 Misdemeanor (and Extraordinary Risk Crime)
- Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child, a Class 4 Felony
- Sexual Exploitation of Children, a Class 6, 4, or 3 Felony
- Extortion, a Class 4 Felony
- Computer Crime, a Class 4, 3, or 2 Felony.
- Or any combination, including all, of the above.
In other words, you can get anything from 6 months in jail (if you are only convicted with Unlawful Sexual Contact and receive the minimum) to 72 years (if you are convicted with the maximum sentence for all five charges and the judge finds sufficient aggravating circumstances to warrant a doubling of the standard sentence.) Needless to say, a huge amount of the success of every sextortion defense happens during the sentencing hearings, where the precise charges you’ll be facing are determined.
That, in turn, depends on precisely how the prosecution claims the crime was commissioned, and how the judge decides to interpret the status. There is no specific reason that the judge is obligated, for example, to decide on either the Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child or the Sexual Exploitation of Children statues — he can easily choose to pursue both, even though they are quite redundant. Similarly, if the prosecution claims that the victim’s webcam was hacked in order to obtain the explicit materials, they’ll call for a higher class of Computer Crime than if they believed the materials were given voluntarily before the crime occurred.