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Life As A Registered Sex Offender

Sex Offenders & The Possibility of De-Registration

When most people imagine sex offenders, they might picture violent criminals who pose a threat to their community. However, this is often not the case. Many sex offenders committed non-violent crimes, or possibly even crimes they did not know at the time were sexually offensive. These can include streaking, public urination, or soliciting a prostitute. Minors can also be required to register for offenses such as sexting, texting sexual innuendos, to another minor. In many ways, the Sex Offender Registry treats crimes like public indecency and sexual assault the same. It is unfortunately often true that offenders who are not public dangers must suffer the significant consequences of required registry. However, there is hope – some offenders are able to de-register if they meet certain requirements.

Life As A Registered Sex Offender and Eligibility to De-Register

Why Must Offenders Register?

There are many reasons why the government requires registration as a sex offender. The National Guidelines for Sex Offender Registration and Notification states, that if a sexually violent crime occurs, law enforcement can use the registration system to possibly help identify a perpetrator. Additionally, registered sex offenders may be less likely to re-offend if they believe their identities and locations are being monitored. Civilians may also benefit from having sex offender registration public, in order to check for possible offenders near them. The intentions behind Sex Offender Registration are good, and would be beneficial if all sex offenders were violent criminals who are likely to repeat their offense. However, it often occurs that sex offenders are not likely to re-offend, or may not have been aware that their actions then would lead to becoming a sex offender. 

Who Must Register As A Sex Offender 

Individuals who commit specific sex offenses, and/or offenses against children must register. They must re-register periodically, and also when they move residences.  There are some unexpected offenses that can also require registration, depending on what state you live in. This can include knowing or intentionally transmitting an STD, consensual sex between teenagers, possessing child pornography, soliciting a prostitute, public urination, or indecent exposure. Many of these apply to minors as well. This means that even non-violent crimes, such as streaking, or teenagers sexting, can lead to sex offender status in some states. Depending on the offense, you might be required to register for 10 years to life. You will be required to register for life if you are labeled as a sexually violent predator, or if you have been convicted of multiple sex offenses. In Colorado, to be considered a sexually violent predator, you must: 

  • Have been 18 years old when the offense was committed, or tried as an adult 
  • Have been convicted of sexual assault, unlawful sexual contact, sexual assault on a child, or sexual assault on a child by someone in a position of trust
  • Victim must have been a stranger to the offender, or a person with whom the offender promoted a relationship with for the purpose of victimization 
  • Meet other scoring criteria

When these requirements are met, a judge will decide whether the offender should be designated a sexually violent predator. 

Registered Sex Offender Restrictions  

The restrictions on sex offenders may vary based on the offense committed and location they reside. However, they are generally banned from having certain jobs, such as ones with children present, like schools and daycare centers. They must also stay a specified distance away from schools, parks, and other child-focused locations. This includes working next to these locations or taking your own children to these locations. This can also be an issue when finding a place to live, as many houses are near these areas. And even if you find a place not next to a banned area, landlords may still often deny you based on this sex offender status.

Many Registered Sex Offenders have difficulty finding jobs, and housing, which explains why many are homeless or otherwise in poverty. They also face many social barriers, and may have trouble fitting in with their community, since their registration information may be public. The difficulties sex offender status present to offenders make it more difficult, if not impossible, to reintegrate into society. 

Registered Sex Offender Treatment 

Those who are required to register also must complete treatment and supervision. In Colorado, treatment and supervision guidelines are established by the Sex Offender Management Board. Possible expectations are to take responsibility for sexually offending behavior, develop victim empathy, learning to utilize appropriate social skills, and managing thoughts and feelings. This can include supervision and monitoring through group treatment or a polygraph test. 

De-Registering As A Sex Offender 

Some offenders who were convicted of misdemeanors, attempted felonies, or have been given a deferred sentence, are eligible to de-register as a sex offender. You can ask the court to end your requirement to register if you meet one of these conditions: 

  • You have successfully completed the terms and conditions of a deferred sentence, the case has been dismissed, and since that time you have not been convicted for an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior 
  • You were less than 18 years old when you committed the offense, completed your sentence or disposition related to that offense, and have not been convicted of any offense involving unlawful sexual behavior since that time 
  • The offense committed was a misdemeanor other than unlawful sexual contact or third-degree sexual assault, and it has been five years since your final release from the jurisdiction of the court, and you have not been convicted of an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior since that time 
  • The offense committed was a class 4-6 felony, or class 1 misdemeanor for unlawful sexual contact or third-degree sexual assault and it has been 10 years since your final release from the jurisdiction of the court or discharge from DOC-DHS, and you have not been convicted of an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior since that time 
  • The offense committed was a class 1-3 felony,  and it has been 20 years since your final release from the jurisdiction of the court or discharge from the DOC/DHS, and you have not been convicted of an offense involving unlawful sexual behavior since that time 

In Colorado, you are not eligible to de-register if you: 

  • Are classified as a sexually violent predator
  • Are an adult with more than one conviction for unlawful sexual behavior 
  • You were convicted as an adult for sexual assault in first of second degree, sexual assault on a child, sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust, sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist, incest, or aggravated incest. 

Sexual Offender Registration can impact every area of your life. If you believe you are eligible to de-register, you should considering discussing your situation with a criminal defense attorney.

Need Help? 

If you have questions about your eligibility status, or need legal help petitioning the court for your de-registration, consider reaching out to Nicol Gersch Petterson for a free 30-minute consultation.

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