We are often contacted by people who have just moved to Denver, Larimer or Jefferson County. Often, they have been charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – C.R.S. 18-3-412.5, because they failed to DE-register as sex offenders in the state or jurisdiction from which they moved. The law related to registration as a sex offender is extremely difficult to follow. We need to be honest with ourselves: Colorado has made it easy to become a sex offender, difficult to be one, and almost impossible to discontinue being a sex offender. It is time for reform.
Laws Make Life as a Sex Offender Difficult and Complicated
There are so many laws related to registering as a sex offender. For example, if you live in a home in Arapahoe County, and decide to move to Douglas County, you need to deregister with the police in Centennial and register with Castle Rock law enforcement agencies. If you forget to register (or deregister), you are committing the crime of failure to register. Here are a few more things sex offenders are required to register:
- Address (if you are homeless, or don’t know where you’re going to live after you get out of prison or jail, you will commit failure to register).
- Former names (including a/k/a names);
- Email addresses;
- Instant message names;
- Chat room identity;
- Place of employment;
- Enrollment status in a college;
- Motor vehicle information;
If any of these items (there are many more) are not reported; updated, or are incorrectly reported, a person will be charged with Failure to Register and could be required to go back to jail or prison.
Don’t Forget to Register: You Have Five Days to Report Changes
Another problem with our system is that information must be registered within five business days of the change. For example, if an employer gives you a new email address for work, and you fail to report it to the law enforcement agency in which you live, you are in danger of being charged with failure to register. We have seen sex offenders register for college courses to begin bettering their life, only to be kicked out and charged with failure to register because they didn’t report their registration in college courses within five business days.
We Need a Change
We make life far too difficult for registered sex offenders. We create ridiculous laws which cannot be easily followed with the goal of “public safety.” Studies show however, that in some cases, sex offender registration laws actually cause sex offenders to reoffend. These laws are in place simply to satiate the need of judges, DA’s and law enforcement officials to “do something” to protect the public. It is time to rethink our laws.