In Colorado, sex offenders are required by law to register with the local law enforcement agency in each jurisdiction in which they reside. Failure to register (FTR) is a crime under section 18-3-412.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes.
Felony sex offenders who fail to register as required or to keep law enforcement notified of their whereabouts commit a felony in Colorado. Misdemeanor sex offenders who fail to do so commit a Colorado misdemeanor.
To help you better understand the consequences of failing to register as a Colorado sex offender, our Denver Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss the following, below:
- 1. What obligations do Colorado sex offenders have?
- 2. What are the penalties for failing to register?
- 3. How do I fight the charges?
- 4. Is forgetting to register a defense?
- 5. Do out-of-state offenders have to register in Colorado?
- 6. Do Colorado offenders have to register if they move?
- 7. Related offenses
Colorado’s registration requirements for convicted sex offenders are set forth in article 3 of title 18 of the Colorado Revised Statutes. They apply to both people convicted in Colorado and to people who move to Colorado after conviction in any other state or U.S. jurisdiction (including the military).
These obligations include (without limitation):
- Registering as a sex offender as required under article 22 of title 16, C.R.S.;
- Submitting a complete and accurate registration form;
- Truthfully informing any probation department employee, community corrections administrator, or judge or magistrate of your correct address (including any trailer or motorhome);
- Truthfully advising the court or corrections department where you intend to live upon release from incarceration for a sex offense;
- Providing your current name and any former names for the Colorado sex offender registry;
- Re-registering with local law enforcement upon changing or your address, establishing an additional residence, or legally changing names;
- Providing your correct date of birth;
- Sitting for or providing a current photograph or image;
- Providing a current set of fingerprints,
- Providing your correct address,
- Completing a cancellation of registration form when you leave a jurisdiction; and
- Registering your e-mail address, instant-messaging identity, or chat room identity before using it, if legally required to do so.
If you do not have a fixed residence, you are nevertheless obligated to notify law enforcement of your current location. Failure to do so is the separate (though less serious) offense of failure to verify location as a sex offender, Colorado CRS 18-3-412.6.1
See our related article on registration laws for sexually violent predators (SVPs).
CRS 18-3-412.5 penalties for failing to register as a sex offender are separate from the punishment for the underlying sex crimes conviction.
As an adult, punishment for misdemeanor failure to register can include:
- Up to 18 months in jail, and/or
- A fine of up to $1,000.2
Failure to register as a Colorado sex offender is a felony if the underlying conviction was for a felony.
A first-time failure to register for a felony conviction is a Colorado class 6 felony. Consequences include:
- 1 – 1.5 years in prison, and/or
- A fine of $1,000-$100,000.
A second or subsequent offense is a Colorado class 5 felony. Penalties include:
- 1 – 3 years in prison, and/or
- A fine of $1,000-$100,000.3
Juveniles under the age of 18 are punished differently under Colorado sex offender registration laws, unless they were tried and convicted as an adult.
If a juvenile fails to register as required following the adjudication, he or she faces a mandatory minimum detention as follows:
- 30 days if their sex offense would constitute a misdemeanor if committed by an adult;
- 45 days for a first failure to register as the result of a sex offense that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult; or
- One year for a subsequent failure to register for a sex offense that would constitute a felony if committed by an adult.4
Failure to verify location as a Colorado sex offender is an unclassified misdemeanor. A first or second offense can be punished by a sentence of up to thirty days in the county jail. A third or subsequent violation is punishable by up to one year in the county jail.5
There are very few available defenses for failure to register as a sex offender in Colorado or to provide notice of a change of location.
However, you are not responsible for failure to register as a sex offender or provide your location if you can prove that:
- Uncontrollable circumstances prevented you from complying;
- You did not contribute to the creation of the circumstances in reckless disregard of the requirement to comply; and
- You complied as soon as the circumstances ceased to exist.6
Another defense would be proving that you did, in fact, comply, but the department made a clerical error or otherwise failed to record your compliance.
Possibly. The Colorado Court of Appeals, Division Two, said that prosecutors have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant knowingly failed to register. Since forgetting is the absence of knowing, it follows that forgetting to register could be a defense to CRS 18-3-412.5 charges. 7
However, prosecutors may not believe that the defendant innocently forgot. And they may try to build a case showing that the offender intentionally did not register. Therefore, simply claiming “I forgot” will probably not cause the D.A. to drop charges, at least not immediately.
Yes. If a sex offender registrant from another state moves to Colorado, he or she is required to register with the local police within five (5) business days of the move. The offender should also notify his or her home state about the move.8
Yes. Offenders should check ahead of time what the laws are in the new state. And offenders also need to notify law enforcement in Colorado that they are moving out-of-state.9
7.1. Sexual assault
Sexual assault / rape (CRS 18-3-402) is any forced or non-consensual act of sexual penetration in Colorado. A felony, rape carries 2 years to life in prison depending on the circumstances of the case.
7.2. Unlawful sexual contact
Unlawful sexual contact (CRS 18-3-404) is unwanted sexual touching, such as groping or fondling. It is less serious than rape since it does not involve penetration. It can be a felony or a misdemeanor depending on the case.
Also see our article on indecent exposure (CRS 18-7-302).
7.3. Enticement of a child
Enticement of a child (CRS 18-3-305) is inviting a child somewhere in order to commit sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact with the child. It is always prosecuted as a felony.
Pimping (CRS 18-7-206) is living off the earnings of a prostitute. It is different from pandering (CRS 18-7-203), which is inducing or arranging for others to engage in prostitution. Pimping is always a felony.
Also see our article on solicitation of a prostitute (CRS 18-7-202).
Our criminal defense lawyers assist clients throughout the state, including Denver, Greeley, Colorado Springs, Arapahoe, and more. We appear in state and federal jurisdiction courts throughout Colorado on all types of criminal and DUI charges.
See our related article, Colorado Sex Offender Rules – 4 to know.
Arrested in Nevada? See our article on Nevada laws for failure to register as a sex offender.
Disclaimer: Past results do not guarantee future results.
- CRS 16-22-108; see also People v. Jones, (2017) 2017 COA 116, 405 P.3d 504.
- CRS 18-3-412.5. Prior to March 1, 2022, extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanors carried up to 2 years in jail and/or up to $5,000 in fines. SB21-271.
- CRS 18-3-412.5. See also People v. Dorsey, 2021 COA 126. (“[A] prior conviction for failure to register as a sex offender in section 18-3-412.5, C.R.S. 2020, is not an element of the offense for a subsequent violation of that offense but instead a sentence enhancer.”).
- CRS 18-3-412.5.
- CRS 18-3-412.6.
- CRS 18-3-412.5 (1.5)(a) and CRS 18-3-412.6 (2)(a); People v. Wilson, (2017) 2017 COA 89 (Eviction, homelessness, or lack of a fixed residence are not excuses for failing to register.).
- People v. Lopez, (COA 2005) 140 P.3d 106.
- CRS 15-22-106; CRS 16-22-108; See Registration, Colorado Bureau of Investigation (CBI).