Everyone makes mistakes. If you find yourself on the wrong side of the law, though, you have to carry a reminder of your mistakes with you in the form of a criminal record. It’s something that can make it harder to do things like get a good job, find an apartment, and even take out a loan.
Having your name on the sex offender registry is like that by a factor of 10. Not only can absolutely anyone look up the details of your sex crime charge with just a few clicks, they can see things like your home address. Additionally, registered sex offenders have to routinely re-verify their information, and if anything ever changes or they want to take a vacation, they have to notify the proper authorities ahead of time – and that’s just the beginning.
Being on the sex offender registry can be a huge drag on your life, preventing you from moving on and contributing to society in a meaningful way. If you have already been rehabilitated, is there anything you can do to get your name off the list?
In Colorado, the answer is yes, and in this post we’re going to go over who qualifies and what the process is.
What Does It Take to Qualify for Removal from the Colorado Sex Offender Registry?
Many people with a criminal record can apply to have it expunged so that they are able to “hide” their past transgressions from employers and the public eye in general. The sex offender registry doesn’t quite work like this, but there are similarities.
In order to have your name removed, you will need to file a petition. However, after you serve your sentence, you will likely have to wait a required five, 10, or even 20 years before you are allowed to do this.
How do you know when you can file your petition? It depends on the crime.
If you were convicted of unlawful sexual behavior and served a deferred sentence or deferred adjudication: You may file a petition after you complete your sentence. This applies to juveniles and adults who were convicted of a crime involving unlawful sexual behavior.
If you were convicted of a misdemeanor sex crime (other than unlawful sexual contact or third degree sexual assault): You may file a petition five years after you complete your sentence.
If you were convicted of unlawful sexual contact, third degree sexual assault, or a class 4, 5, or 6 felony: You may file a petition 10 years after you complete your sentence.
If you were convicted of a class 1, 2, or 3 felony: You may file a petition 20 years after you complete your sentence.
Offenders cannot have a second or subsequent conviction of unlawful sexual behavior if they want to file a petition for removal. If the offender has committed a sex crime since they completed their sentence, they will not be able to apply for removal from the sex offender registry.
Keep in mind that these are just general rules – there are some exceptions. For example, the following offenders will never be eligible for removal under any circumstances:
- Sexually violent predators
- Adults with multiple sex crime convictions (in Colorado or elsewhere)
Offenders who were convicted of the following crimes will also not be eligible for removal from the sex offender registry:
- Sexual assault, sexual assault in the first degree, or sexual assault in the second degree
- Sexual assault on a child
- Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust
- Sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist
- Aggravated incest
What Is the Process for Getting Your Name Off of the Sex Offender Registry in Colorado?
Our state does not automatically remove eligible sex offenders from the state registry. As mentioned above, offenders must petition – but that’s just the beginning.
Below are the steps you will need to follow in order to be removed:
File a Petition
If you currently live in Colorado and were convicted of a sex crime in Colorado, you will have to file the Petition to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration. Out-of-state offenders must file an additional form and pay a filing fee.
Before you file the petition, Colorado requires offenders to notify the following parties:
- The law enforcement agency in your local area
- The prosecuting attorney for the jurisdiction
- The prosecuting attorney who charged you with the sex crime
A skilled Colorado criminal defense lawyer can help you through this process.
Once you have filed the initial petitions, you will have to file a Notice of Hearing of Petition. Keep copies of every form that you fill out throughout this process. You may need to have extra copies on hand when you attend your hearing.
Prepare for Your Hearing
If the court accepts your petition, you will be called to attend a hearing. This hearing is crucial to the court’s decision. A judge will ask a series of questions about your crime, your sentence, and your behavior after you served your sentence. Your lawyer can help you prepare answers for these questions and offer other guidance about getting ready for your hearing.
After the Hearing
If the court approves the removal of your name from the sex offender registry, you still have some work to do. The court will give you an Order that you will need to distribute to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Do not forget to complete this last step of the process!
Sound complicated? It can be.
Don’t forget what’s waiting on the other side, though: a second chance at life so that you can wake up every day without the burden of being a registered sex offender. This checklist should help, but don’t be afraid to reach our to our office for professional legal guidance.
About the Author:
Kimberly Diego is a criminal defense attorney in Denver practicing at The Law Office of Kimberly Diego. She obtained her undergraduate degree from Georgetown University and her law degree at the University of Colorado. She was named one of Super Lawyers’ “Rising Stars of 2012” and “Top 100 Trial Lawyers in Colorado” for 2012 and 2013 by The National Trial Lawyers. Both honors are limited to a small percentage of practicing attorneys in each state. She has also been recognized for her work in domestic violence cases.