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People v. Randolph.

2023 COA 7. No. 20CA0174. Soliciting for Child Prostitution—Mens Rea—Knowingly—Sufficiency of Evidence—Expert Testimony.

January 26, 2023

A police officer created a profile of a girl named “Nicole” on the social networking platform Tagged. Randolph messaged Nicole numerous times offering her money to perform sex acts with a man that he would bring to her apartment. Randolph also repeatedly asked to have sex with her. Nicole told him she was not yet 18. Randolph told Nicole several times over a few days that he was on the way to her apartment, but he never showed up. About a month later, Randolph was arrested and charged with soliciting another for child prostitution under CRS § 18-7-402(1)(a), and for arranging or offering to arrange a meeting for child prostitution under CRS § 18-7-402(1)(b). Before trial, the district court concluded that “knowingly” was the mental state that applied to the soliciting charges, and it instructed the jury accordingly. Randolph was found guilty on both counts.

On appeal, Randolph contended that the mental state for both types of soliciting for child prostitution was “intentionally,” so the district court erred by instructing the jury that the mental state was “knowingly,” which impermissibly lowered the state’s burden of proof. As relevant here, a person commits soliciting for child prostitution by (1) soliciting another for the purpose of prostitution of or by a child, or (2) arranging or offering to arrange a meeting of persons for the purpose of prostitution of or by a child. The court of appeals analyzed the phrase “for the purpose of” and concluded that it does not mean “intentionally,” so the mental state for the crimes of soliciting for child prostitution and soliciting for child prostitution (arranging) is “knowingly.” Accordingly, the district court did not err.

Randolph also argued that the prosecution presented insufficient evidence to support the convictions. However, the record supports the findings that Randolph solicited Nicole for the purpose of child prostitution and arranged or offered to arrange a meeting for the purpose of child prostitution. Further, it is immaterial that Randolph never actually went to Nicole’s apartment because the crime is complete the moment the defendant solicits another. Therefore, there was sufficient evidence to establish the convictions.

Randolph further contended that the district court reversibly erred by admitting the expert testimony of Officer Tangeman and Investigator Steele. To the extent Randolph objected to the officers’ “pimping profile” testimony, any error was harmless because Randolph was not convicted of pimping. Further, Officer Tangeman’s testimony that Randolph “did not take the out and continued to message with me and solicit me” was not expert opinion testimony. And Officer Tangeman’s use of the word “solicit” was a colloquial description of Randolph’s behavior, so it did not usurp the jury’s role as factfinder. Thus, the district court did not reversibly err by admitting the testimony.

The judgment of conviction was affirmed.

Official Colorado Court of Appeals proceedings can be found at the Colorado Court of Appeals website.

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