Even after your criminal sentence is served, conviction of a sex offense can continue to have a devastating impact on your life in many unforeseeable ways. Though technically not part of your criminal punishment, sex offender registration serves as a social stigma, makes it difficult to find jobs and housing, and includes associated fees and fines that can do tremendous damage to your quality of life.
In large part, these consequences are due to Colorado’s public sex offender registry. Many sex crimes require offenders to put their name and identifying information in these records—sometimes for several years, sometimes for life.
In the hope of clearing up some of the misinformation around sex offense registration, here are a few things you should know about a registering as a sex offender in Colorado.
1. Even Misdemeanors Can Require Registration
Though many believe that only felony charges can land someone on the registry, this simply isn’t true. There are a number of misdemeanor sex offenses that can require registration.
According to the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, the following misdemeanor offenses can require sex offender registration:
- Indecent exposure
- Unlawful sexual contact
- Public Indecency
2. Urination in Public Does Not Require Registration
It’s worth noting that an arrest related to a public urination offense, mooning, or “streaking” has not required sex offender registration since 2010. It is still a crime, however, and can be punished as a misdemeanor.
Exposing yourself in public is only punishable by sex offender registration if it is determined to have occurred for sexual gratification.
3. State Laws Do Not Limit Where You Can Live
With the exception of parolees or those on probation, Colorado state laws don’t limit where a sex offender can live—this is left up to the different jurisdictions. Many cities and towns prevent sex offenders from living within a short distance of schools, parks, daycare centers, and other places children congregate.
Because of this, in many areas, there is almost no place where a sex offender can rent or buy a residence. Furthermore, there are number of cases of neighborhood citizens forcing a registered sex offender out once they are discovered.
4. Registration Can Become Very Expensive
There are a number of fees associated with a sex offense that are not considered criminal penalties. Despite this, offenders must still pay these fees – often out-of-pocket – or risk further criminal punishment.
For example, in Colorado sex offenders are required to undergo a psychosexual evaluation after conviction. The cost for this mandatory evaluation is somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000 dollars.
After evaluation, a registered sex offender must participate in treatment, with has an average cost of roughly $300 a month. Depending on the case, this treatment can last for many months—or even several years. Other expenses include paying for your own supervision, further evaluations, and regular polygraph tests.
In an interview with Freakonomics, a psychologist who deals mainly with sex offenders post-conviction had this to say on the hidden costs of a sex offense: “I’m guessing the first year that an individual is charged and convicted they’re gonna be easily in the $10,000 range.”
This is a grim and underreported reality of life as a registered sex offender. These hidden costs can become all the more overwhelming when one accounts for the fact that many sex offenders have a great deal of difficulty finding work after conviction.
5. Different Offenses Require Different Registration Periods
Not all sex offenders are registered for life, although a number of offenses do require life-long registration. Misdemeanor offenses usually require 5 years of registration, although unlawful sexual contact is a misdemeanor offense that requires 10 years of registration.
Third-degree sexual assault and Class 4 to 6 felonies require 10 years of registration. A Class 1 to 3 felony offender will have to register for 20 years.
The following will require you to be registered for life:
- Individuals labeled as sexually violent predators
- People who have been convicted of multiple sex offenses
- Those who are required to register as a Colorado sex offender on a quarterly basis.
All in all, what it means is that conviction for a sex offense and the subsequent requirement to register can have a tremendous negative impact on your life for many years to come. If you are facing charges for any sex crime, it is in your best interests to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.