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Colorado Sex Offenses and Why They are Different

Colorado sex offenses are seen and handled differently because they threaten public decency and morals. The Colorado Sex Offender Laws are among the most strict in the United States. Hence individuals convicted of such crimes in the state are usually subjected to harsh sentences, including jail/prison time, hefty fines, and mandatory registration in Colorado’s Sex Offender Registry. These may lead to other consequences such as loss of some individual rights and privileges, difficulty finding jobs, housing, and social opportunities. Additionally, there are no expungement or sealing provisions made for sexually related crimes in Colorado. Perhaps, the effects may linger for the rest of an offender’s lifetime.

What is Colorado Sex Crime?

Sex crimes in Colorado constitute all unlawful, forceful, or coerced sexual conduct against another individual.

The Colorado Revised Statutes divide sex crimes into three basic categories:

  • Sexual assault involving all sexual crimes of penetration or intrusion, such as rape, forced intercourse, or penetration with a strange object
  • Sexual assault on a minor involving all forms of sexual misconduct with a fifteen-year-old or younger child and the offender is at least four years older than the victim
  • Sexual contact crimes such as groping or fondling of genitals and sexual battery involving unwanted touching of sexual nature

In addition to the above, some acts outside sexual assault or contact may be considered sex crimes. These offenses can require an individual to serve some time in prison, pay a hefty fine, and register on the Colorado sex offender list. Examples include:

  • sexual exploitation of a child
  • luring a minor on the internet
  • indecent exposure and public independency
  • incest
  • possession, production, and distribution of child pornography
  • prostitution
  • invasion of privacy for sexual indulgence
  • second-degree kidnapping
  • failure to register as a sex offender.

What are the Different Types of Sex Offenses?

Colorado sex offenses are either misdemeanor sex crimes or felony sex crimes.

Misdemeanor Sex Crimes

They are sex offenses that come in one major category known as class one misdemeanors or M1. This class one misdemeanors are the most severe misdemeanors with which individuals are charged. They carry determinate sentences, which means that unlike felony sex crimes in Colorado, there is a limited number of years that offenders can be sent to jail or be on probation. They are punishable by incarceration of up to 2 years and fines of up to $5000. Convicted offenders must register as sex offenders for a minimum of 10 years to a lifetime. Examples of misdemeanor sex crimes include:

  • Misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual intrusion or sexual penetration of minors of least 15 years old but less than 17 years and the perpetrator is at least ten years older than and is not married to the victim.

Felony Sex Crimes

Felony sex crimes are more severe than misdemeanors and have more adverse consequences. They are classified into class 2(F2) - class 6(F6) felonies:

  • Class 2 felonies: Are the most severe of sex offenses. They carry collateral consequences that can last a lifetime. Possible penalties include prison time of 8 and 24 years and a fine between $5,000 and $1,000,000. An example of a class 2 felony in Colorado is selling or recruiting a minor for commercial sexual activity.
  • Class 4 and Class 3: Sex felonies also carry lifelong consequences such as life on felony sex offender probation or life in prison. Offenders may spend between 2–12 years in prison and pay fines of $2,000 - $750,000. Examples include harboring, isolating, or transporting an individual to coerce them into engaging in commercial sexual activity; and inflicting sexual penetration or sexual intrusion on a minor and family member that the offender is not legally married to.
  • Class 5 and Class 6: Are less severe; hence, they do not carry lifelong sentences like classes 2, 3, and 4. However, like all felony sexual assault crimes in Colorado, they have specific mandatory requirements such as Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Probation (SOISP) and lifetime sex offender registration. They also lead to losing certain privileges such as social life/opportunities, participating in activities with children, owning a firearm, or drinking alcoholic drinks. They are punishable by 12 to 36 months of imprisonment with a compulsory parole period of one year and fines between $1,000 and $100,000. Examples include subsequent failure to register as a sex offender or submitting false information during registration; and photographing another person’s intimate parts without consent.

Aside from prison time and expensive fines, convicted sex offenders may also lose parental rights, lose rights to a child conceived from sexual crime, and become subject to community supervision and mandatory drug tests.

Sex Offender Levels of Classification in Colorado

To classify sex offenders, Colorado adopts part of the Adam Walsh three-tier classification system that organizes offenders based on the nature of the offense committed. It also groups them based on how long they should remain subject to registration on the state sex offender registry. Generally, the system of classification groups offenders as follows:

  • Tier 1 sex offenders: These are first-time offenders and those adjudicated juveniles as young as 14 years. They are mandated by law to update their whereabouts annually with 15 years of registration.
  • Tier 2 offenders: These offenders have a moderate tendency to re-offend. They must update their whereabouts every six months with 25 years of registration.
  • Tier 3 offenders These offenders are the most dangerous of all three with a high chance of repeating their crimes. They are to update their information quarterly (3 months) with lifetime registration requirements. Tier 3 offenders are further grouped into three classes, namely:
  • Sexually Violent Predators (SVP’s): Offenders with the highest risk and potentially dangerous. They are the only offenders subject to community notification.
  • Offenders with multiple offenses: They are convicted sex offenders with two or more felony convictions for sexual crimes.
  • Offenders who failed to register: They are prone to failing or choosing not to register. They acquire additional charges for non-compliance.

It is important to note that the State of Colorado does not include information on convicted juveniles and other minor misdemeanor sex crime offenders on the state registry.

How Do I Find A Sex Offender Near Me in Colorado

Because sex offenses are crimes, they are a part of a convicted individual’s criminal records. Hence they can be obtained via multiple means:

  • Local law enforcement and county Sheriff offices may offer criminal records on request. Additionally, according to Colorado Revised Statutes, they may also maintain separate websites containing sex offenders’ information in their jurisdiction.
  • The Colorado Judicial Branch maintains all court and criminal records, which may be made available on request for a fee. The inquirer may also visit the court in person to request paper copies.
  • The Colorado Department of Corrections provides information on prison inmates and their criminal history on request to members of the public.
  • Colorado Sex Offender Registry.

Colorado Sex Offender Registry

The Colorado Bureau of Investigation’s Felony Sex Offender Registry is a means of recovering information about sex offenders in the state. It is a public list of individuals convicted of sex crimes within the state limits. Generally, the registry consists of details of adults convicted of felony sex crimes but excludes details of individuals convicted of misdemeanor or juveniles sex crimes.

The information provided in the registry is curated by local law enforcement offices across the state. It includes the following information about registered sex offenders:

  • Full name and aliases
  • Registration status
  • Date of birth
  • Address
  • Physical description; gender, race, height, weight, hair color, eye color, scars, marks, and tattoos
  • Photographs
  • Fingerprints
  • Details on crime(s) and conviction(s)
  • Identification status as a sexually violent predator
  • Information about the offender’s predatory habits, if any.
  • Social media or internet profile information

The registry serves as a searchable safety and community notification service that law enforcement agencies use to monitor sex offenders in their jurisdiction. For instance, law enforcement gets notified when a sex offender refuses to register. It also identifies offenders named sexually violent predators (SVP. This group of offenders poses the most risk to public safety. Additionally, the registry provides neighborhood citizens with a means to identify sex offenders close to them for safety reasons. It allows users to search by the offender’s name, location, and crime of conviction.

The sex offender registry usually provides updated information on offenders. Typically, offenders update their information annually, but they must also update the registry’s information when they make any adjustments to work or home locations. Further, some specific offenders are required by state law to update their information quarterly. They include;

  • sexually violent predators (SVP)
  • adults convicted of felony sexual assault, sexual assault on a minor, and aggravated incest.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

What are the Sex Offender Restrictions in Colorado?

Aside from registering as sex offenders, people convicted of sex crimes suffer certain restrictions. Some of these restrictions are living restrictions, work restrictions, alcohol restrictions, and more. Typically, the Colorado state laws do not restrict where sex offenders may live. However, local ordinances of different jurisdictions within the state may set such restrictions. Most local laws prohibit sex offenders from living within a short distance of schools, parks, daycare centers, and other facilities where children gather. As a result, Colorado has many areas where sex offenders cannot rent or buy homes.

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