Sex crimes are criminal actions involving sexual misconduct, sexual assault, criminal sexual behavior, or illegal pornography. The penalties for sex offenses can be incredibly severe and include significant jail time, fines, and lifetime supervision.
In addition, a sex crime commission can require registering as a public sex offender. In 1994 Congress passed Megan’s Law, which requires all states to have a public sex offender registry but left it to respective states to determine which offenses require registration. All felony sex offenders can be found on the Colorado Convicted Sex Offender Search website.
How Does Sex Offender Registration Work in Colorado?
In Colorado, both adults and juveniles can be required to register as sex offenders as a part of their sex crime conviction. In addition, people who move to Colorado will also be required to register if convicted of a crime requiring sex offender registration in another state (or if the crime committed would require a registry under Colorado law).
A sex offender that occupies a dwelling (house, apartment, hotel, motel) in Colorado for more than 14 days in any 30 days will be deemed a temporary resident and must register with the Colorado sex offender registry.
Sex offenders required to register must supply the local law enforcement officers with their personal details, including fingerprints, photos, address, place of employment or school attended, registered vehicles, etc. All sex offenders must re-register annually on their birthday; however, those classified as sexually violent predators must re-register every 90 days.
In addition, those convicted of a sex crime involving a minor must register all email addresses and online aliases before being authorized to use those email addresses or online aliases.
Sex offenders must notify police within five days of moving to a different Colorado county. The Colorado public can access all available data on registered sex offenders at their local police station. In addition, Colorado has an online registry that lists felony sex crime offenders and offenders that fail to register properly.
How Can I Be Exempted from the Public Sex Offender Registry?
A court can exempt a sex offender from registration if:
- The individual meets specific guidelines (e.g., the individual was under the age of 18 at the time the criminal act was perpetrated); and
- The court determined that the requirement to register is unfairly disciplinary and that exempting the sex offender from the registration requirement would not pose a substantial danger to the community.
Can I Have My Criminal Record Sealed?
In Colorado, if you have been convicted of a sex crime (either in Colorado or another state), you may be able to file a petition to be removed from the sex offender registry if you meet specific criteria. Typically, you may request the court to remove you from the sex offender registry after a time related to the severity of the offense:
- A felony 1, 2, or 3 requires a 20-year waiting period;
- A felony 4, 5, 6, misdemeanor 1 for unlawful sexual contact or misdemeanor 1 for a 3rd-degree sexual assault requires a 10-year waiting period; or
- All other misdemeanor sex crimes require a 5-year waiting period.
Note: Not every sex offender is eligible for removal from the sex offender registry. The waiting periods listed above are only prerequisites for filing a petition with the court if qualified. To discover if you are eligible, read the sentencing notes from your conviction or contact a criminal defense attorney.
Further, depending on whether or not you meet the necessary criteria, you may be able to seal your criminal records, otherwise known as expungement. Eligibility for expungement varies from state to state. Still, if you only perpetrated a minor sex crime that did not involve violence, such as indecent exposure, you might be able to get that record expunged.
What Crimes Get You On the Sex Offender Registry?
When someone commits a particular crime relating to sex, they may be required to register as a sex offender at their local registry. The type and harshness of the crime committed can contribute to the time that a convicted individual must be registered.
In particular, some offenses that may lead to an individual being added to the database include the following:
- Sexual abuse or sexual assault, especially if the victim is a child or minor;
- Rape or statutory rape;
- Indecent exposure; and
- Child pornography.
Aside from the type or severity of the crime, other factors may dictate how long a person has to be registered, such as the laws of a particular state, the defendant’s age, or if the conviction gets reversed.
Generally speaking; however, most sex crime convictions will typically require the individual to be registered for life.
What Is Record Sealing or Expungement?
Whenever a person has a conviction on their record, it can cause many difficulties in getting employment, professional licensing, and the right to vote. Even if a criminal case doesn’t result in a formal conviction, the arrest record and the criminal prosecution can sometimes remain, causing similar problems.
In specific cases, many convictions and records of arrest can be sealed so that they are off-limits to all but law enforcement personnel. In other cases, the individual’s record can be subject to a process known as expungement, wherein a criminal file is removed from public records completely.
How Is Record Sealing Different from Expungement?
The primary distinction between record sealing and expungement is that criminal records still “exist” if the records are sealed. The files and records are still there, but they just can’t be accessed by employers and other individuals. It is usually standard proceedings that a person’s juvenile criminal files are sealed once they turn 18 years old (though they can occasionally still be accessed via court order).
In comparison, expungement results in the actual deletion or erasing of criminal charges and arrest files as if they never happened. Specific charges may be more challenging to get expunged than others. For example, misdemeanor charges are usually more easily expunged than felony charges.
Laws regarding criminal record sealing and expungement can differ widely from state to state. Eligibility for such practices can often hinge on the type of crime involved.
Eligibility for Record Sealing or Expungement
Eligibility for record sealing differs from state to state, but typically, the procedure is as follows:
- Apply for record sealing in writing with the court where the conviction occurred
- The original sentence must have been served
- The individual is not facing any new charges
- The burden is on the applicant to demonstrate that probation requirements have been fulfilled
When filing for an expungement, the individual will often file in the same court where the prosecution takes place. The petition for expungement will usually only be good for one case; if they want to expunge multiple records, they must usually file separate petitions. The judge will then review the petition and decide their eligibility. Individual courts may sometimes have their own procedures for expungement or record sealing.
Additional Information about Record Sealing or Expungement
It is essential to keep in mind that:
- Many felonies are not eligible for expungement
- Nearly every sex offense is not eligible for record sealing
- Expungement usually applies to juvenile offenses or misdemeanors
- In some states, even though records are sealed, the original sealed conviction may still be used to increase the severity of a future sentence
Do I Need an Attorney?
If you have been charged with a crime, you must immediately seek legal help. A local Colorado criminal defense lawyer can inspect your case, raise potential defenses, collect physical evidence, depose witnesses, and represent you in court.