Sentencing Sex Offenders in Colorado
(CRS 18-1.3-901)

A conviction for a sex crime in Colorado can lead to additional penalties beyond incarceration and fines. Some sex offenders may be committed to the custody of the department of corrections after serving their criminal sentence for an indeterminate amount of time. In this article, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers will address:

1. What is a sex offender in Colorado?

A “sex offender” is a person convicted of a sex offense. Designation as a sex offender requires an individual to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before they are released, and may subject them to confinement beyond the prison sentence.1

2. What are sex offender crimes in Colorado?

Sex offenders are anyone convicted of or plead guilty or nolo contendere to a sex offense. It also includes criminal attempt, conspiracy, or solicitation to commit a sex offense.2 Sex offenses include any of the following:

  • Sexual assault -- C.R.S. 18-3-402
  • Unlawful sexual contact -- C.R.S. 18-3-404
  • Sexual assault on a child -- C.R.S. 18-3-405
  • Sexual assault on a child by one in a position of trust -- C.R.S. 18-3-405.3
  • Aggravated sexual assault on a client by a psychotherapist -- C.R.S. 18-3-405.5
  • Enticement of a child -- C.R.S. 18-3-305
  • Incest -- C.R.S. 18-6-301
  • Aggravated incest -- C.R.S. 18-6-302
  • Trafficking in children -- C.R.S. 18-3-502
  • Sexual exploitation of children -- C.R.S. 18-6-403
  • Procurement of a child for sexual exploitation -- C.R.S. 18-6-404
  • Indecent exposure -- C.R.S. 18-7-302
  • Soliciting for child prostitution -- C.R.S. 18-7-402
  • Pandering of a child -- C.R.S. 18-7-403
  • Procurement of a child -- C.R.S. 18-7-403.5.
  • Keeping a place of child prostitution -- C.R.S. 18-7-404
  • Pimping of a child -- C.R.S. 18-7-405
  • Inducement of child prostitution -- C.R.S. 18-7-405.5
  • Patronizing a prostituted child -- C.R.S. 18-7-406
  • Sexual conduct prohibited under C.R.S. 18-7-701
  • Wholesale promotion of obscenity to a minor -- C.R.S. 18-7-102(1.5)
  • Promotion of obscenity to a minor -- C.R.S. 18-7-102(2.5)
  • Class 4 felony internet luring of a child -- C.R.S. 18-3-306 (3)
  • Internet sexual exploitation of a child -- C.R.S. 18-3-405.4
  • Public indecency -- C.R.S. 18-7-301(2.b) (3rd or subsequent offense or 2nd offense committed within 5 years of a previous offense)
  • Invasion of privacy for sexual gratification -- C.R.S. 18-3-405.63

3. What is civil commitment for sex offenders?

The district court having jurisdiction may, in lieu of the sentence otherwise provided by law, commit a sex offender to the custody of the department for an indeterminate term having a minimum of one day and a maximum of his or her natural life.4

According to Colorado law, the majority of persons who commit sex offenses, if incarcerated without treatment, will continue to present a danger to the public when released. However, “some sex offenders respond well to treatment and can function as safe, responsible, and contributing members of society, so long as they receive treatment and supervision.”5

Civil commitment in Colorado allows a person to remain in state custody after their prison sentence is finished if they are considered a sexually dangerous person. Offenders are committed to a secure mental health facility for treatment until they are considered safe to be released. However, this allows sex offenders to end up spending the rest of their natural life in prison. Civil commitment laws have been ruled constitutional by the Supreme Court.

4. Sex Offender Proceedings in Colorado

Commencement of sex offender sentencing shall commence within 21 days after the conviction of a sex offense.6

“Before the district court may accept a plea of guilty from any person charged with a sex offense, the court shall, in addition to any other requirement of law, advise the defendant that he or she may be committed to the custody of the department, including any penal institution under the jurisdiction of the department.”7

Upon commencement of the sentencing proceedings, the court shall advise the defendant, orally and in writing, that:

  • The defendant is to be examined by two psychiatrists;
  • The defendant has a right to counsel, and, if the defendant is indigent, counsel will be appointed to represent him or her;
  • The defendant has a right to remain silent; and
  • An evidentiary hearing will be held and the defendant and his or her counsel will be furnished with copies of all reports prepared for the court pursuant to sections 18-1.3-908 and 18-1.3-909 at least fourteen days prior to the evidentiary hearing.8

The court shall order an investigation and report to be made by the probation officer and filed with the court after commencement of the proceedings.9

After the evidentiary hearing, the court shall make a finding of fact and conclusion of law within 7 days. If the court finds beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant would constitute a threat of bodily harm to the public, the court may commit the defendant.10

5. Sex Offender Psychiatric Evaluation

After advising the defendant of his or her rights, the court shall commit the defendant to the Colorado mental health institute at Pueblo, the University of Colorado psychiatric hospital, or the county jail. The defendant will then undergo psychiatric evaluations.

  • If committed to the Colorado mental health institute at Pueblo or the University of Colorado psychiatric hospital, the defendant shall be examined by two psychiatrists of the receiving institution.
  • If committed to the county jail, the defendant shall be examined by two psychiatrists appointed by the court.

The examining psychiatrists will provide independent written reports to the court with the opinion of the psychiatrist as to whether the defendant if released, would be considered a threat of bodily harm to members of the public. The reports shall also contain opinions concerning:

  • Whether the defendant is mentally deficient;
  • Whether the defendant could benefit from psychiatric treatment; and
  • Whether the defendant could be adequately supervised on probation.11

After reviewing the reports of the psychiatrists and the probation officer, the court may terminate the proceedings and proceed with sentencing.12

6. Can you appeal a sex offense conviction?

If an individual is determined to be a threat to society at large as a sex offender and committed to confinement, they may file an appeal. The defendant can appeal an adverse finding in the same manner as for other criminal appeals.13

7. Related Topics

7.1. Sex Offender Registry

If you are found guilty of (or plead guilty or no contest to) a sex crime, you will be required to register as a sex offender. By law, you must provide personal information on a regular basis to the local chief of police or county sheriff in all jurisdictions where you reside, whether in Colorado or another state.

7.2. Colorado Sex Crimes

Under the Colorado Revised Statutes, sex crimes are divided into two basic categories: sexual assault and sexual contact. Colorado sex offenses have serious consequences. In addition to prison time and a fine, felony sex offenses require you to register as a Colorado sex offender.

7.3. Failure to Register as a Sex Offender C.R.S. 18-3-412.5

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 as a sex offender is a crime. Felony sex offenders who fail to register as required or to keep law enforcement notified of their whereabouts commit a Colorado felony. Misdemeanor sex offenders who fail to do so commit a Colorado misdemeanor.

Call us for help...

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If you have been arrested for a sex crime, contact us at Colorado Legal Defense Group. Our caring Colorado defense attorneys have many years of experience representing clients facing sentencing as a sex offender. We are among the best Colorado criminal defense attorneys to call. Contact us today for a free consultation by phone or in-person or in our Denver law office.

Legal References

  1. C.R.S. 18-1.3-903(4)
  2. C.R.S. 18-1.3-1003(5)(b)
  3. C.R.S. 18-1.3-1003(5)(a)
  4. C.R.S. 18-1.3-904
  5. C.R.S. 18-1.3-1001
  6. C.R.S. 18-1.3-906
  7. C.R.S. 18-1.3-905
  8. C.R.S. 18-1.3-907
  9. C.R.S. 18-1.3-909
  10. C.R.S. 18-1.3-912
  11. C.R.S. 18-1.3-908
  12. C.R.S. 18-1.3-910
  13. C.R.S. 18-1.3-913

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