After being charged for a sex crime, you may feel frustrated or confused. Many people who believe they engaged in consensual sex are charged, and the definitions and penalties surrounding “sex offenses” and “sex offenders” can be broad and hard to grasp.
Below we will explain the basics of Colorado’s sex crimes laws: what sex crimes are, the laws that make penalties extremely harsh for convicted sex offenders, and the subsequent consequences of being on Colorado’s sex offender registry.
What Is Considered a Sex Crime?
Sex crimes don’t just include rape or sexual assault. Many different situations, including acts of consensual sex, can be considered sex crimes and have similar consequences to offenses like rape and sexual assault depending on the specific circumstances involved. Let’s look at the different crimes that can put you on Colorado’s sex offender list:
- Sexual assault
- Sexual exploitation of a child
- Statutory Rape
- Internet luring of a child
- Indecent exposure
- Public indecency
- Unlawful sexual contact
- Child pornography (possession, production, distribution)
- Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification
- Second degree kidnapping
- Failure to register as a sex offender
Lifetime Supervision of Sex Offenders Act
Penalties for different sex crimes vary based on the crime, aggravating factors, age of the victim, and any prior convictions you may have. It would be nearly impossible to go into the penalties for each different crime, but it is important to note one 1998 Colorado law that has had a profound impact on penalties for sex offenders.
The Lifetime Supervision of Sex Offenders Act allows sex offenders to be sentenced to life sentences. This law has been shown to encourage judges to give harsh sentences to convicted sex offenders. Studies show that around one in four convicted sex offenders go straight to jail, and over half of Colorado’s prisoners facing life sentences are in prison for sex crimes. Colorado’s method of handling sex crimes convictions can be extremely complex and sometimes unpredictable.
What Is the Sex Offender Registry?
Even if you do not face life in prison for a sex crime conviction, you may still have to endure embarrassing consequences for decades to come.
The sex offender registry is a public list of individuals who have been convicted of sex crimes, which includes the crimes listed above. If you are a convicted sex offender, you will have to register your place of residence every year with the local law enforcement office. If you use social media or have an internet profile, you will also have to register this information with law enforcement.
Most of this information will then be put on the internet, where employers, neighbors, and anyone else in the general public can find information on your criminal background. The list even allows users to search by name, location, and crime.
Colorado’s sex offender registry is not always a lifelong consequence. You will have to continue to register annually for a set amount of time based on the crime you committed. In some cases, you can petition the court to take you off the sex offender registry 5, 10, or 20 years after you were convicted. However, if you have been convicted of being a Sexually Violent Predator, you will have to register every three months, and will have a much harder time petitioning to be removed from the registry.
Penalties for Failing to Register
The charges and penalties for failing to register as a sex offender differ based on the crime(s) you have committed. If you were originally put on the registry for a felony conviction, failing to register will be a felony charge. The same idea goes for misdemeanor offenses. Your failure to register will keep you on the registry and add a new misdemeanor offense next to your name.
If you have been charged with a sex crime, you don’t just face a cut-and-dry sentence of prison time or parole. But you do face the possibility of harsh penalties and public embarrassment. To begin crafting a strong defense against your charge, contact a skilled Colorado sex crimes lawyer today.
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 2012-2016 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.