Image Credit: Pixabay – OpenClipartVectors
I see it on the news every day – someone was arrested and charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender. The public's opinion generally consists of relief and happiness that another “evil sex offender” has been caught. What they don't realize, is it is extremely easy to be charged with a sex offense in the first place in Denver, Adams, and Jefferson County. It is even easier to be charged with Failure to Register. One wrong answer on a form or leaving out one tiny detail will result in a person being charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender – C.R.S. 18-3-412.5.
A Good Person Can be Labeled as a Sex Offender
First, we'll tackle the belief that all sex offenders are evil predators. This just isn't the case, considering our current laws in Larimer, Boulder, and Douglas County. We'll use a story to illustrate cases we see often:
[pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”100%”]Here's the story of Tyler:[/pullquote]
A man (let's call him Tyler) is successful; he works for a big company in downtown Denver, and he rents an apartment in a modern complex.
One Friday night, he goes out drinking with friends. After a few too many drinks, he goes out on the dance floor and meets a woman who is also drunk. They dance, and he gets a little bit too close and grabs her butt. He thinks nothing of it, but the next morning he finds out the woman's friends saw her, and she was embarrassed – so she called the police. After a trial, Tyler is convicted of Unlawful Sexual Contact – C.R.S. 18-3-404, and is required to register as a sex offender.
He loses his job (employers are wary of employing sex offenders), and he has to move from his apartment because the complex doesn't allow registered sex offenders to rent. He finally lands another job, and he finds a place to live in Centennial. Tyler registered with law enforcement in Arapahoe County as he was supposed to – but was late in his registration (he is allowed to register 5 days before his move or 5 days following his move). He will be charged with Failure to Register as a Sex Offender, and could face more jail time.
[pullquote align=”left” textalign=”left” width=”100%”]Good people do stupid things and get unjust labels.[/pullquote]
Tyler is not a bad person. We see people just like him on a weekly basis – good people do stupid things (especially when they've had too much to drink) and get a label which is extremely difficult to deal with. Forgetting one small change (such as a new email address) can end with a person being charged with Failure to Register.
Failure to Register – Easy to Be Charged
There are hundreds of small rules sex offenders are required to follow. They must register every email address, chat room name, social media account, phone number, car registration, addresses where they reside, places they volunteer, and many more tiny details. It is difficult to keep track of every detail – I have been a criminal defense attorney for over 20 years and I have a hard time deciphering the many rules. We need to be careful how we view those “evil sex offenders.” As with our example, good people like Tyler live with the sex offender label overshadowing their lives.