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Understanding Colorado’s Sex Offender Registry

Colorado’s sex crime laws are complex and include a range of potential outcomes, from misdemeanor charges to felonies. A conviction for a sex crime can affect an individual’s reputation, finances, and job prospects for decades to come. Individuals who are convicted of sex crimes are required to register as sex offenders in Colorado.

At Wolf Law, we know that Colorado’s sex offender laws are complicated. Our team of criminal defense attorneys has extensive experience with sex offense allegations, including helping eligible individuals petition for deregistration from the state’s sex offender list. 

If you believe you may be eligible for deregistration or are under investigation for a sex offense, contact our team for a free consultation. You can reach us online or call our Denver office at 720-479-8574. 

What counts as a sex crime in Colorado?

Sexual offenses and charges can vary based on the exact details of the incident. In Colorado, there are numerous sexual offenses that are divided into various “categories.” Here are some examples:

  • Prostitution: Prostitution is considered a crime under Colorado law, and may result in different types of charges and sentences. For example, solicitation is a Petty Offense, but pimping is a Class 3 felony. 
  • Sexual assault: This broad term covers many different crimes that involve unwanted sexual contact (e.g., assault, rape). Charges vary based on the details of the incident (e.g., use of date-rape drugs, violence). Situations involving an individual under the age of 15 may lead to sexual assault charges even if no force is involved (commonly referred to as statutory rape).
  • Indecent exposure: Purposely exposing one’s genitals to cause shock or alarm is a crime in Colorado, and the perpetrator must register as a sex offender if convicted. Public indecency (e.g., public sex) is similar, but a conviction does not trigger automatic registration.  
  • Internet luring: This refers to situations where an adult knowingly communicates explicit sexual content through a computer or data network to someone they know or believe is under the age of 15. This includes communication with an undercover police officer posing as someone under 15.
  • Child pornography: It’s a crime in Colorado to produce, distribute, or possess child pornography which is defined as sexually exploitative material of anyone below the age of 18. Sentences may depend on aggravating factors, such as previous criminal charges.

This list is not comprehensive; more details are available in the Colorado Revised Statutes.

What are Colorado’s sex offender registration requirements?

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation provides the full text of the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act. Here are examples of some of individuals who are required to register as sex offenders in Colorado:

  • A person who was convicted on or after July 1, 1991 of a sexual offense in Colorado.
  • A person who moves to Colorado and who was convicted on or after July 1, 1991 of a sexual offense in another state.
  • A juvenile who is adjudicated for a sexual offense

Colorado law also includes a legal definition for a Sexually Violent Predator (SVP). Here is an overview of the SVP definition:

  • “Sexually violent predator” means an adult who:
    1. Has been convicted of one the following sexual offenses : sexual assault, sexual assault in the second degree, unlawful sexual contact, sexual assault on a child, or sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust; and
    2. Was either a stranger to the victim or established a relationship with the victim for the sole purpose of sexual victimization; and
    3. As a result of a risk assessment screening instrument, is found likely to commit a subsequent sex offense.

An SVP is required to register for life as a sex offender in Colorado.

Who is eligible to deregister from the sex offender list?

Individuals who have been convicted of certain serious sex crimes must register as sex offenders for life with no possibility of requesting deregistration. Here are some examples of individuals who may not petition to deregister as sex offenders:

  • A person convicted as an adult of sexual assault
  • A person convicted as an adult of incest
  • An person convicted as an adult of sexual assault on a child
  • A psychotherapist convicted of sexual assault on a client
  • A person with more than one conviction as an adult for unlawful sexual behavior
  • A person with an adjudication as a juvenile for unlawful sexual behavior and a conviction as an adult for unlawful sexual behavior.

However, people who are convicted of some less-serious sex crimes may petition the court to discontinue the registration requirement. 

The individual must have registered as a sex offender for the specified time frame based on their crime before they may petition for deregistration. Here are some examples of convictions and the amount of time required before a deregistration petition can be submitted:

  • Class 1 misdemeanor: 5 years
  • Class 4, 5, or 6 felony or the Class 1 misdemeanor of Unlawful Sexual Contact: 10 years
  • Class 1, 2, or 3 felony: 20 years

If an individual was under 18 years old when their case was adjudicated, they may petition for deregistration as soon as they have successfully completed and been discharged from their sentence. Colorado passed a new juvenile deregistration law effective as of September 1, 2021, ending the juvenile’s duty to register when they turn 25 years old or 7 years from the date they began registration (whichever occurs later). However, this process has not been as automatic as the legislature intended it to be and many individuals have been told by law enforcement they are still required to register when the law does not intend them to do so.

Not every person who petitions for deregistration is granted their request. A court must rule in favor of the petitioner in order for the registration requirement to be lifted. 

The petition process can be complicated and includes a lot of sensitive information. As anyone who has been designated as a “sex offender” knows, you are treated unfairly, and the District Attorney’s Office will look for any reason to make sure your petition is denied. If you plan to petition for deregistration, you must build a compelling case to present to the court. An experienced deregistration attorney can help you build a thorough case that may encourage the court to rule in your favor.

Contact Wolf Law for help from compassionate and experienced criminal defense attorneys

Being investigated, charged, or convicted of a sex crime in Colorado can have long-lasting consequences. If you are required to register as a sex offender, it can affect your whole life, from your social interactions to your job prospects. Even if you become eligible to petition for deregistration from the sex offender list, it can be challenging to build a compelling case for yourself. It becomes especially difficult for individuals to complete the process themselves because the instructions provided on the judicial website are not always in compliance with current law.

Wherever you are in the legal process, Wolf Law can help make sure your rights are protected. Our criminal defense attorneys are experts in Colorado’s sex crime laws and are passionate about helping individuals access their right to legal defense. We’ll listen to your story and help you understand your options under Colorado law. 

If you or a loved one is being investigated or charged with a sex crime, contact our Denver office at 720-479-8574. We can also help with your petition to deregister from the Colorado sex offender list. It’s easy to contact us online to schedule a free consultation.