What Happens if I Don’t Register as a Sex Offender in Colorado?

What Happens if a Sex Offender Does Not Register

If you’ve been convicted of a sex crime in Colorado, one of the most important things you need to understand is the requirement to register as a sex offender with law enforcement. It’s not just a formality – failure to properly register can lead to very serious criminal charges on top of your original sentence.

Missing a step or giving inaccurate information—even inadvertently—can result in additional criminal penalties. That’s why at Dawson Law Office, we make it our mission to ensure our clients fully comprehend Colorado’s sex offender registration laws and vigorously defend the accused against criminal charges.

Who Must Register as a Sex Offender in Colorado?

Under C.R.S. 16-22-103, Colorado mandates registration for anyone convicted of unlawful sexual behavior crimes, including but not limited to:

  • Sexual assault
  • Unlawful sexual contact
  • Sexual exploitation of children
  • Soliciting a child prostitute
  • Indecent exposure

This applies not just to Colorado cases, but any out-of-state conviction as well if the person moves to our state. No matter where the offense occurred, you must register once residing in Colorado.

Registration Info Required and Timeframes

Within five business days of release or receiving notification, the offender must report in person to their local law enforcement agency and provide the following:

  • All current and former names
  • Date of birth
  • Residence address(es)
  • Employment information if working at a school
  • Fingerprints
  • Current photographs
  • Email addresses and online identities

This information is compiled into a statewide database managed by the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, and portions of it may be publicly accessible online or through community notification.

How Often Do You Have to Re-Register in Colorado?

For most offenders, this initial registration is just the start—there are ongoing requirements to re-register annually.

Additionally, those classified as “sexually violent predators” under Colorado law must re-register every 90 days for life. There is no opportunity for removal from the registry in these cases.

For those without a permanent home, updates are required every 30 days.

Penalties for Failure to Register in Colorado

For those convicted of misdemeanor unlawful sexual behavior, failing to register is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor “extraordinary risk” crime under C.R.S. 18-3-412.5.

This can result in:

  • Up to 24 months in county jail
  • Fines reaching $5,000

If the original offense was a felony, failure to register jumps up to a Class 6 felony. A first offense at this level carries:

  • 1 to 1.5 years in state prison
  • Fines from $1,000 up to $100,000

Any subsequent failure to register after that first felony charge becomes a Class 5 felony, punishable by 1 to 3 years in prison and those same hefty fines.

Juvenile Penalties for Failure to Register

For offenders under 18, there are different but still very serious consequences. Following an adjudication for a sex offense, failing to register carries mandatory minimum detention sentences of:

  • 30 days for what would be a misdemeanor offense for an adult
  • 45 days for a first felony-equivalent offense
  • One year for subsequent felony-equivalent failures to register

These are not charges to take lightly at any age. One mistaken assumption that “it’s not a big deal” can derail a young person’s entire future.

Potential Defenses to Failure to Register Charges

When clients come to us facing charges for failure to register or update their information, we examine every possible legal defense strategy.

A few key avenues we may pursue include:

  • Demonstrating that truly uncontrollable circumstances, such as incapacitation, existed that prevented registration and that the client complied at the first opportunity.
  • Arguing that any failure to register was not done “knowingly” but rather was inadvertent oversight or a mistake since the prosecution must prove the defendant knowingly failed to register as required by the statute.
  • Identifying clerical errors or other mistakes in law enforcement recordkeeping wrongly showing noncompliance.

Ultimately, having a skilled Colorado sex crimes defense lawyer carefully analyze the specifics of your case is crucial to avoiding failure to register charges and penalties.

Relief from Sex Offender Registration Requirements

In certain circumstances, it may be possible to petition the court to discontinue the requirement to register as a sex offender in Colorado. However, there are strict eligibility criteria based on factors like the offense level, the time elapsed since discharge, and whether any new sex crimes have occurred.

  • For misdemeanor offenses other than unlawful sexual contact or third-degree sexual assault, you can request removal from the registry if it has been at least five years since your final release and you have no new unlawful sexual behavior convictions during that time.
  • For Class 4-6 Felonies or Class 1 Misdemeanors of unlawful sexual contact/third-degree assault, the waiting period is ten years after discharge with no new sex crime convictions.
  • And for the most serious Class 1-3 Felony sex offenses, you must wait at least 20 years after completing your sentence entirely conviction-free before petitioning for removal.

However, certain former offenders are permanently ineligible for removal, including those deemed sexually violent predators, adults with multiple unlawful sexual behavior convictions, and those convicted of crimes like sexual assault on a child or aggravated incest.

Required Paperwork to Petition for Removal

If you meet the relevant timeframe and Criminal conviction criteria, the process for requesting discontinuation of the registration requirement involves filing a set of forms with the original sentencing court:

  • JDF 461 Petition to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration
  • JDF 462 Notice of Hearing on Petition
  • JDF 463 Order to Discontinue Sex Offender Registration
  • JDF 479 Certificate of Mailing

You’ll need to use the same case number as your original conviction. The JDF 463 order form only requires you to complete the caption area initially.

Once filed, you must properly serve the prosecuting attorney with the petition via certified mail and file the certificate of mailing before your hearing date. There is no filing fee required.

At the hearing, the judge will evaluate your petition and circumstances. If approved, you’ll receive the signed order to provide to law enforcement agencies and the Colorado Bureau of Investigation to finalize removal from the registry.

The process is complex and requires strict adherence, so it’s advisable to have an experienced attorney assist you, especially given the serious consequences if your petition is denied. Our team at Dawson Law Office can ensure all requirements are properly met and represent you persuasively at the hearing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I have to re-register if I move to a new residence in Colorado?

Yes, you must report any residence change to local law enforcement within five business days.

What if I get a new email address or online username?

You must provide updated information on all online identities when you re-register.

I was convicted of a sex offense years ago in another state. Do I still need to register if I move to Colorado?

Absolutely. Any relevant prior out-of-state conviction requires registration once residing in Colorado.

Can I ever get removed from the registry?

In certain circumstances, after five or more years with no further offenses, you may petition the court to discontinue the registration requirement. But, this process is complex and has strict eligibility criteria. Our experienced legal team has an in-depth understanding of all the nuances to ensure full compliance for our clients.

Failure to Register Charges in CO? We Can Defend You

If you are unsure about any registration responsibilities or face charges for failure to register, the stakes are too high to go alone. Contact the Dawson Law Office today to sit down with an attorney who can clearly explain your rights and protect you from overzealous prosecution. We’re here to advocate for you every step of the way.

Don’t risk further criminal penalties by misunderstanding Colorado’s sex offender registration rules. Contact us now to consult a knowledgeable defense attorney to fulfill all registration duties.

Author Bio

Ryan Dawson-Erdman is the founder of Dawson Law Office, a top-rated criminal defense firm located in Boulder, Colorado. As an aggressive advocate, Ryan focuses his practice on defending against serious criminal charges, including sex crimes, Title IX violations, and federal offenses. He has taken nearly a dozen cases to jury trial, showcasing his exceptional litigation skills. His legal skills have earned him numerous accolades over the years, including being selected to Super Lawyers Rising Stars for 2022-2024.

A Colorado native, Ryan attended the prestigious Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College to further refine his courtroom abilities. He earned his J.D. from Loyola University New Orleans and his B.A. from the University of Colorado Boulder. Ryan is an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar. His firm provides tenacious representation for all criminal charges in Boulder, Denver, and the surrounding areas.

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