As the definition of what constitutes a sex-crime continues to evolve, and awareness about just how common true sex crimes really are remains heightened, it seems accusations are flying, and regular every day people all over the country are getting caught in the cross-hairs.
In Colorado, just this past fall a North Denver court upheld a federal ruling that a local ordinance on women appearing topless in public is not only discrimination against women and a violation of the constitution, but also not worth the resources it takes to prosecute these violations.
Most recently, a woman in Utah called on this same ruling in defense against charges of lewdness with a child.
Utah Woman Faces Sex Offender Registry for Being Topless at Home
The Utah woman has been found to have gone topless in front of her step-children…within the privacy of her own home. She is now facing sex offender registration, and Colorado rulings have been brought in as precedent.
Her stepchildren saw her without a shirt at home while she thought she was in private. This incident was reported to authorities by the children’s biological mother, who was “alarmed.”
In her defense, it was noted that the children’s father was also topless at the same time, and no charges have been pressed against him. If this woman is convicted, she will be forced to register as a sex offender.
In Colorado, Things Are a Little Different
The Colorado ruling referenced overturned a ban against women going topless in public, as it treats men and women differently. Instead, the state understands the detrimental impact of these sorts of charges (and consequences of conviction), and it reserves sex offender registration for only certain convictions.
Colorado Requirements on Sex Offender Registration
There are a variety of crimes that require sex offender registration in Colorado. Some sex crimes do not, however. Common convictions that do not require registration include:
- Public indecency
It All Comes Down to Consent
The difference between crimes that require sex offender registration and those that don’t is simple. It all comes down to consent.
In general, if you are convicted as a sex offender for acts considered to be of a sexual nature without someone’s consent, then you’ll likely register as a sexual offender.
While we tend to think of those sex crimes that involve some element of violence (rape, sexual assault, etc.), even indecent exposure can result in this requirement.
The Thin Line Between Indecent Exposure and Public Indecency
To receive a charge of indecent exposure, you must knowingly expose your genitals in a situation where this will likely cause an “affront or alarm.” The line between this and public indecency, which does not require sex offender registration, is thin.
Colorado (and Every Other State) Says a Child is Incapable of Consent
Any sex crime that involves a child automatically requires registering as a sex offender. This includes enticement of a child, exploitation of a child, incest, trafficking of a minor or procurement of children.
Registering as a CO Sex Offender Has Permanent Consequences
Once you have been convicted of a charge that requires sex offender registration, you must immediately register yourself with the law enforcement agency where you live. Depending on your sentencing, you could, in fact, be affected for life.
- You are usually barred from living too near places like schools and playgrounds
- You may not be allowed to work in “positions of power” (think psychiatrist or teacher)
- You likely will lose custody of your children
- You will by-and-large, relinquish a sense of privacy
- You may lose trust and respect from family, friends, and the community
If you are facing charges and have questions about sex offender registration requirements, reach out to an experienced Colorado criminal defense attorney for advice.
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.