In the Colorado criminal justice system, the term sexually violent predators (SVPs) refers to a more serious and higher risk class of convicted sex offenders. Unlike other sex offenders, SVPs must register for life. They must also update their information four times a year rather than just once per year.
SVP designation is for sex offenders who:
- were convicted of sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact,
- were prosecuted as an adult,
- victimized a stranger, and
- are at high risk of reoffending.
In this article, our Denver Colorado criminal defense attorneys discuss:
- 1. What is a sexually violent predator (SVP) in Colorado?
- 2. For how long must SVPs register?
- 3. How often do SVPs have to register?
- 4. Can SVPs get off the registry early?
- 5. What information about SVPs is public?
- 6. Where can SVPs live?
- 7. What if SVPs fail to register?
Also see our article about sentencing sex offenders.
SVPs are the highest-risk sub-class of registered sex offenders in Colorado. SVPs are people who meet all of the following four criteria:
- They were at least 18 years old at the time of the sex offense. Or they were juveniles prosecuted as an adult.
- The victim was a stranger to the defendant. Or the victim was a person the defendant formed a relationship with for the purpose of sexual victimization.
- A risk assessment screening indicates they are likely to re-offend with criminal behavior.
- They were convicted of one of the below offenses on or after July 1, 1999. Or they were convicted of an attempt, solicitation, or a conspiracy to commit one of the below offenses on or after July 1, 1997:
- Sexual assault (18-3-402 C.R.S.) or sexual assault in the first degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000;
- Sexual assault in the second degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000;
- Unlawful sexual contact (18-3-404(1.5) or (2) C.R.S.) or sexual assault in the third degree as it existed prior to July 1, 2000;
- Sexual assault on a child (18-3-405 C.R.S.); or
- Sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust (18-3-405.3 C.R.S.)
Therefore, the following people would not qualify as SVPs:
- Defendants who victimized their significant other, friend, or close family member;
- Defendants who were under 18 at the time of the offense and were not prosecuted as an adult;
- Defendants whose risk assessment indicates they are unlikely to commit another sex offense; or
- Defendants not convicted of sexual assault or unlawful sexual contact
Note that a person can be an SVP whether they were convicted by taking a plea or being found guilty at trial.1
Sexually violent predators must register for life in Colorado.2
Sexually violent predators must confirm their information with the police department every three months (quarterly). Such information includes their:
- Place of employment, and
- Online identities
SVPs must also update their information with the sheriff’s office every time they move or legally change their name. Even SVPs living in trailers or motor homes must update their information whenever they change location. And SVPs who attend or work at a college must re-register every time they:
- Begin their work or study;
- Change their work status; or
- Change location at the institution3
No. But if the conviction ever gets overturned, the defendant should get off the registry immediately.
Colorado’s Sex Registry reveals the following information about SVPs:
- Date of birth
- Address (including county name)
- Hair color
- Eye color
- Scars, marks, and/or tattoos
- Crimes (and dates of conviction)
- Offender designation (that they are classified as an SVP)
- Modus operandi (details of predatory habits), if applicable
- Whether they ever failed to register as a sex offender
This additional information is available online. Or people can call the Colorado Bureau of Investigation at (303) 239-4201.
Colorado state law places no restrictions on where SVPs can live.4 But many local laws do prohibit sex offenders from living near schools, parks, and daycare facilities. So SVPs should check county and municipal ordinances.
Whenever SVPs change addresses, the local police issue a “community notification.” This entails:
- Posting information about the SVP on the police website,
- Informing neighbors and businesses in the area, and
- Informing surrounding law enforcement agencies
And if SVPs move to another state, they must follow that state’s laws for registering.
Failure to register as a sex offender is a class 6 felony. Providing false information while registering is also a class 6 felony. A conviction for not following sex offender registration requirements carries:
- 1 to 1 ½ years in Colorado State Prison (Department of Corrections), and/or
- $1,000 to $100,000 in fines5
The defendant’s online profile on the sex registry will also show this conviction.
If the defendant was on parole at the time, failing to register may also cause the defendant to serve more prison for the underlying sex crime.
A “failure to register” charge may be dismissed if these three circumstances are true:
- Uncontrollable circumstances prevented the defendant from registering;
- The defendant did not recklessly cause these circumstances; and
- The defendant registered as soon as these circumstances ended
In California? Learn about SVPs in California.
- 18-3-414.5. C.R.S.; see People v. Hunter, 307 P.3d 1083 (2013). Evaluators from the Sex Offender Management Board use an assessment instrument – that takes into account mental abnormality – to determine who qualifies as an SVP. The purpose of SVP designation and the use of this information is to help public safety.
- 16-22-108 C.R.S.
- Same; Laws Governing Sex Offenders in Colorado, Colorado Legislative Council Staff (December, 2016).
- Jessica Porter, “The number of sex offenders living near Denver schools will shock you“, ABC Denver Contact7 (March 20, 2019).
- 18-3-412.6 & -412.5 C.R.S.