In March 2014, the Colorado Court of Appeals acquitted Dallas Cardenas of all human trafficking charges. The court determined that under the 2014 version of Colorado's human trafficking statute, a defendant who sold the sexual services of a minor, as opposed to selling a minor for sex, did not commit the crime of human trafficking. Following the Cardenas decision, the state legislature passed House Bill 1273, which broadened the language of the statute and eliminated all possible affirmative defenses, including minor consent. Under the new law, a defendant can no longer argue that a minor consented to commercial sex. However, the new legislation failed to include what is colloquially referred to as a "safe harbor law"-a law that shields minors from unjust prosecution for prostitution-related offenses and connects victims with services, such as housing, counseling, and record sealing. In doing so, the state left a blatant gap in the law where a person who sells someone under the age of eighteen for sex can be convicted of child trafficking, while, simultaneously, the child victim can be arrested and charged with prostitution. This Comment argues that Colorado must pass a safe harbor law to remedy this legal inconsistency. Such a law would ensure that the state's sexually exploited youth are consistently treated as victims rather than criminals and would provide victims with access to the services and support they need in order to escape, once and for all, the world of commercial sex.
Jessica A. Pingleton,
Finding Safe Harbor: Eliminating the Gap in Colorado's Human Trafficking Laws,
U. Colo. L. Rev.
Available at: https://scholar.law.colorado.edu/lawreview/vol87/iss1/6