Colorado Law re "Failure to Register as a Sex Offender"
(18-3-412.6 & 18-3-412.5 C.R.S.)

Colorado sex offender registry info with silhouette of man

The crime of failing to register as a Colorado sex offender

In Colorado, sex offenders are required by law to register with the local law enforcement agency in each jurisdiction in which they reside.1 Failure to do so is a crime under section 18-3-412.5 of the Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S.).

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.

To help you better understand the consequences of failing to registry as a Colorado sex offender, our Colorado criminal defense lawyers discuss the following, below:

1. Colorado sex offender obligations

The obligations of Colorado 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 motor home);
  • 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 sex offender, Colorado 18-3-412.6 C.R.S.

2. Penalties for failing to register as a Colorado sex offender

Failure to register as a sex offender is a Colorado “extraordinary risk” crime. As such, it carries an increased maximum sentence of incarceration. Such increases are included in the ranges set forth below.

Note that 18-3-412.5 C.R.S penalties for failing to register as a sex offender are separate from the punishment for the underlying sex crimes conviction.

2.1. Misdemeanor failure to register

Failure to register is a Colorado class 1 misdemeanor if you were convicted of a misdemeanor sex offense or its equivalent in another jurisdiction or juvenile court.

As an adult, punishment for misdemeanor failure to register can include:

  • 6 - 18 months in jail, and/or
  • A fine of $500-$5,000.

2.2. Felony failure to register

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 – 2 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

A second or subsequent failure to register for a felony sex offense is a Colorado class 5 felony. Penalties include:

  • 1 - 4 years in prison, and/or
  • A fine of $1,000-$100,000.

2.3. Juvenile failure to register

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, 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.

2.4. Failure to verify location

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.

3. Defenses to failure to register as a Colorado sex offender

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.2

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.

Call us for help…

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Are you trying to get your life back together following release from a Colorado sex crimes conviction? Our compassionate Colorado and Denver sex crimes lawyers know how hard it can be to comply with Colorado's strict obligations for sex offenders.

Before you go back to prison for an innocent mistake, why not contact us for a free consultation? One of our experienced lawyers will respond to you quickly to discuss your case and possible defenses.

We can be reached using the form on this page, or you can call us at our centrally located Denver office:

Colorado Legal Defense Group
1400 16th Street ste. 400
16 Market Square
Denver CO 80202

Arrested in Nevada? See our article on Nevada laws for failure to register as a sex offender.

Legal references:

  1. 16-22-108, C.R.S.
  2. 18-3-412.5 (1.5)(a) C.R.S. and 18-3-412.6 (2)(a) C.R.S.


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