What am I looking at for a sex offense in colorado?
Colorado has some of the strictest penalties for sex offenses in the country. Many felony sex offenses require what is called an "indeterminate sentence" if you are convicted. An indeterminate sentence means you could be subject to a lifetime of supervision or incarceration. The only way to be discharged from an indeterminate sentence is to successfully complete sex offender treatment - if this does not happen, then you could be serving a sentence for the rest of your life. Other sex offenses have serious consequences on conviction, including misdemeanor offenses. A sex offense conviction requires a sex offender evaluation. You may be designated a "sexually violent predator," and subject to stringent housing restrictions and supervision requirements. If you are sentenced to probation on a sex offense, then you will have to do sex offender intensive supervised probation, a highly intrusive and difficult term of supervision to complete. Persons who are sentenced to county jail or prison on a sex offense often receive lengthy sentences.
Sex offenses which require an indeterminate sentence include: Sexual Assault where there is sexual intrusion or penetration; Sexual Assault without intrusion or penetration if the sexual contact is facilitated by threats or the application of physical force; Sexual Assault on a Child; Internet Luring of a Child with intent to meet for purposes of engaging in sexual contact; Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child (includes sending or receiving images of intimate parts). If the offense is eligible for probation, then an indeterminate probation sentence is 10 years to life for a class 4 felony, or 20 years to life for a class 2 or 3 felony. If the judge sentences to state prison or if there is a probation violation, then the minimum sentence is within the presumptive range for the class of offense and the maximum sentence is life. Even if a person sentenced to prison makes parole, then the person is looking at a period of parole from 10 or 20 years to life depending on the class of offense.
Sex offenses also have severe and long-lasting consequences once a criminal case is over. Obtaining housing can be very difficult due to housing restrictions prohibiting sex offenders. Sex offense convictions also require registration, which is a humiliation as well as a new criminal liability because failing to comply with registration requirements is likely to result in criminal charges. Employment prospects become limited. You may also be prohibited from seeing your own children, even if they were not a part of the allegations. Last but not least, the mere allegation of a sex offense can destroy a person's reputation.
If you are charged with a sex offense, or believe you are being investigated for one, then your life is on the line. A conviction for a sex offense cannot later be sealed. It is important to retain a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience handling sex offenses. Sex offenses are difficult cases because many sex offense allegations are emotionally charged and highly provoking for juries to hear. A good criminal defense lawyer is important to ensure that the proceedings are conducted fairly and the evidence is viewed objectively.
What type of physical contact qualifies for a sex offense?
In Colorado, you may be convicted of a sex offense even if you have not engaged in traditional sexual intercourse.
"Sexual contact" in Colorado includes the touching of the genitalia, anus, buttocks, pubes, or breast whether the touching occurs directly on these areas or on the clothing covering such areas. For there to be sexual contact, it does not matter whether the person touched is the defendant or the victim. Misdemeanor Sexual Assault occurs if the victim is subjected to "any sexual contact" and there is no consent or ability to consent. If the victim is less than 15 years old and the defendant is at least 4 years older, then the offense is the felony indeterminate offense of Sexual Assault on a Child, regardless of if the touching is consented to. Sexual contact with
"Sexual intrusion" includes any intrusion, no matter how slight, by any object or any part of a person's body into the genital or anal opening of the victim's body. Felony Sexual Assault may be established both with traditional penetration as well as any "sexual intrusion." Sexual intrusion or penetration where the victim is aged 15 to 17 and the defendant is 10 years older than the victim is another form of misdemeanor Sexual Assault, regardless of consent.
This means that in Colorado, any type of sexual contact may result in liability for a sex offense. The specific type of sexual contact is also important in determining the seriousness of the sex offense. If you have had sexual contact with another person and there is a claim that the contact was not consented to, then you need to consult with a criminal defense attorney who is experienced in sex offenses.
What types of electronic and internet communications are prohibited?
Felony Internet Luring of a Child occurs where there is an electronic communication to a child under the age of 15 with knowledge or belief as to the age, there is a communication describing "explicit sexual conduct," the defendant is at least 4 years older than the child, and there is a statement in connection with the communication persuading or inviting the child to meet in person. "Explicit sexual conduct" includes nudity. If the defendant believes the child is under 15, then the age of the person receiving the communication does not matter. Additionally, it does not matter what the stated purpose of the meeting is, nor if the meeting never actually occurred. What this means is that this offense may occur even if it is law enforcement who is pretending to be a child. If the purpose of the meeting is to engage is sexual contact, then Internet Luring of a Child is an indeterminate sex offense.
Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child occurs if a person at least 4 years older than a child under the age of 15 sends or receives media depicting intimate parts. If the person believes the child is under the age of 15, it does not matter whether the person receiving the communication was actually under 15. This crime includes media depicting the intimate parts of both the sender and the receiver. Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child is an indeterminate felony. What this means is that sending a nude picture to a child is an offense so serious that it may result in a life sentence.
If you choose to engage in sexual communications electronically, you must be extremely cautious about the age of the person receiving the communications. Sometimes a person may accidentally send a communication to someone who is too young, and it is also possible that a child has misrepresented his or her age on the internet. In Colorado, the sending of sexual material or discussion of sexual conduct may be a serious sex offense, even if there is no contact in person. If you believe you have sent electronic communications that may be unlawful, then you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you.
What is the definition of child pornography?
Under both Colorado and federal law, a child for purposes of child pornography offenses is a minor under the age of 18. Visual material depicting a minor engaging in or observing sexual intercourse, erotic fondling, or erotic nudity qualifies as child pornography. "Visual materials" include photographs and videos, as well as prints, negatives, slides, or other materials whether mechanically, electronically, or digitally produced. Different offenses exist depending on a person's relationship to and use of the content. However, the simple possession of such content is an offense no matter the purpose for possessing it. If the materials were transported across state lines then there may be liability for federal offenses. Because child pornography materials are often transmitted electronically, it is common for there to be liability for a federal offense.
Child pornography offenses are extremely serious, and a person is facing a separate charge for each image or video at issue. A judge can sentence someone consecutively for each individual charge, meaning that a person possessing numerous materials may be looking at the equivalent of a life sentence.
A common issue in child pornography cases is whether the person in possession of the materials had knowledge of the materials. Sophisticated criminals have been known to store child pornography on the electronic devices of people without their knowledge. To defend against an accusation of child pornography, it may be necessary to employ an expert forensic examiner to inspect electronic devices to determine how the materials got there and whether the accused actually knew they possessed the materials. If you are accused of a child pornography offense, then it is important that you consult with a good criminal defense attorney.
Sex offender registration
In Colorado, a person may be charged with a felony for failure to comply with any provision of the sex offender registration laws. Law enforcement agencies aggressively monitor whether a sex offender is complying with the registration laws, and you may be faced with a new criminal charge even for seemingly minor violations which are later corrected. If you are required to register as a sex offender, then you usually must register within 5 business days before or after your birthday every year. If you change residences, you must update your registration within 5 business days after the change. Registering improperly or even 1 day late may subject you to a charge for failure to register.
Defending against a charge for failure to register requires a thorough understanding of the registration laws that apply to the conviction, and the laws are different depending on when you got convicted. You should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing a charge for failure to register.
An attorney experienced in criminal law and sex offense should also be consulted if you want to be removed from the sex offender registry. In Colorado, you may petition to be removed from the registry after 20 years for a class 1, 2, or 3 felony offense, after 10 years years for a class 4, 5, or 6 felony or for misdemeanor Unlawful Sexual Contact, or after 5 years for other misdemeanor sex offenses. This time period begins after a person is finished with their sentence, rather than after the date of conviction. If you have more than one sex offense conviction - including within the same case - then you cannot be removed from the registry. Other offenses like Sexual Assault on a Child are ineligible for a petition to get off the sex offender registry.
Waiting the applicable time period to get off the sex offender registry does not entitle you to removal, and there will still be a hearing before the judge. If you want to be removed from the sex offender registry, you should contact an experienced attorney.
Navigating the accusation of a sex offense or an attempt to get off of the sex offender registry is a complex undertaking. Sex offenses are extremely serious, and the first thing you need to do is get a serious criminal defense attorney who will loyally represent your interests despite the vehement opposition that these cases commonly feature.
Thomas Cantley has experience handling both misdemeanor and felony sex offenses, including charges of Indecent Exposure, Misdemeanor Sex Assault, Felony Sex Assault, Sexual Assault on a Child, Child Pornography, Internet Luring, and Internet Sexual Exploitation. Thomas Cantley has won acquittals of multiple sex offenses at trial, and has helped his clients avoid consequences like indeterminate sentences and lifetime registration. Thomas also possesses the required understanding of the sex offense registration laws to help you get removed from the sex offender registry.