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Sex Offender Travel: Colorado’s Rules for OOS Registrants

Registered sex offenders are generally allowed to travel to Colorado, but they must comply with both federal and state reporting requirements. They need to notify their local authorities of their travel plans and register with Colorado authorities if they stay for an extended period. It is essential to check specific legal requirements and restrictions before traveling.
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C.L. Mike Schmidt Published by C.L. Mike Schmidt

Registration Requirements for Sex Offenders in Colorado

According to SCLG, registered sex offenders in Colorado must update their information annually, or every three months if convicted of a quarterly offense. They must also re-register within five business days whenever they move or change their name [1].

Note that local jurisdictions often have rules restricting where registered sex offenders may go or reside. So people should always educate themselves ahead of time about the local rules before traveling to or staying in a new city or town in Colorado

Penalties for Failing to Register as a Sex Offender in Colorado:

Misdemeanor Failure to Register:
Individuals convicted of a misdemeanor-level sex offense who fail to register face an extraordinary risk class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to 18 months in jail
  • A fine of up to $1,000

Felony Failure to Register:
Individuals convicted of a felony-level sex offense who fail to register face a class 6 felony, punishable by:

  • 1 to 1.5 years in Colorado State Prison
  • A fine of $1,000 to $100,000

A second or subsequent failure to register is prosecuted as a class 5 felony, carrying:

  • 1 to 3 years in prison
  • A fine of $1,000 to $100,000

Failure to Verify a Location:
Sex offenders without a fixed residence who fail to follow registration instructions face a class 2 misdemeanor, punishable by:

  • Up to 120 days in jail
  • A fine of up to $750

Juvenile Failure to Register:
Juveniles not tried as adults face lesser penalties. For a misdemeanor-level offense, failure to register results in 30 days of detention. For a felony-level offense, it’s 45 days of detention, and for a second or subsequent felony-level offense, the punishment is one year of detention.

Understanding Sex Offense Classifications and Penalties in Colorado

Sex offenses in Colorado are categorized as either misdemeanor or felony crimes, each with varying degrees of severity and penalties.

Misdemeanor Sex Crimes:
They are sex offenses that come in one major category known as class one misdemeanors or M1. This class one misdemeanors are the most severe misdemeanors with which individuals are charged. They carry determinate sentences, which means that, unlike felony sex crimes in Colorado, there is a limited number of years that offenders can be sent to jail or be on probation.

Examples include:

  • Misdemeanor unlawful sexual contact
  • Indecent exposure
  • Sexual intrusion or penetration of minors aged 15 to 17 when the perpetrator is at least ten years older and not married to the victim

Felony Sex Crimes:
Felony sex crimes are more severe and have significant long-term consequences.

They are classified from class 2 (F2) to class 6 (F6) felonies:

  • Class 2 Felonies: The most severe, carrying penalties of 8 to 24 years in prison and fines between $5,000 and $1,000,000. An example is selling or recruiting a minor for commercial sexual activity.
  • Class 3 and Class 4 Felonies: These crimes carry lifelong consequences such as felony sex offender probation or life imprisonment. Penalties range from 2 to 12 years in prison and fines from $2,000 to $750,000. Examples include coercing individuals into commercial sexual activity and sexual penetration or intrusion of a minor family member.
  • Class 5 and Class 6 Felonies: Less severe than classes 2, 3, and 4, they do not carry lifelong sentences but have mandatory requirements like Sex Offender Intensive Supervision Probation (SOISP) and lifetime registration. Penalties include 12 to 36 months of imprisonment with a one-year parole period and fines between $1,000 and $100,000. Examples include failing to register as a sex offender or providing false information during registration.

Additional Consequences:
Beyond prison time and fines, convicted sex offenders in Colorado may face the loss of parental rights, loss of rights to a child conceived from the crime, community supervision, and mandatory drug tests. They may also be restricted from social activities, owning firearms, or consuming alcohol.

Common Defenses to Sex Crime Charges in Colorado

The most effective defense strategies in Colorado sex crime cases include:

The Consent Defense:
Consent is often disputed in sexual offense cases. The defendant may argue that the victim consented to the sexual act. Consent must be proven as a factual defense, influenced by various factors that determine the admissibility of evidence.

The Mistake-of-Fact Defense:
This defense argues that the defendant had a genuine, reasonable belief that negates the criminal intent required for the offense.

Delays in Prosecution:
Arguing that a delay in prosecuting the case has prejudiced the defendant’s ability to mount an effective defense.

Diminished Capacity and Insanity:
These defenses claim that the defendant was not mentally capable of understanding the nature of the act due to mental illness or incapacity.

Voluntary and Involuntary Intoxication:
Intoxication defenses argue that the defendant’s judgment was impaired, affecting their ability to form the necessary criminal intent.

The Consent Defense
Consent is a critical issue in many sexual offense cases. Defendants may claim the victim consented to the sexual act. The state must prove that the sexual act was non-consensual, involving forcible compulsion or incapacity to consent.

Definition of Consent in Colorado:
“Consent” means voluntary cooperation in the act or attitude, made with free will and knowledge of the nature of the act. Previous or current relationships alone do not constitute consent, and submission due to fear is not considered consent.

Capacity to Consent (Statutory Rape):
In statutory rape cases, the victim’s consent is irrelevant. If the defendant admits to sexual intercourse with a minor under 15, they are guilty of statutory rape, and Colorado’s Rape Shield Law prohibits introducing the child’s sexual history as evidence.

Other Incapacity Issues
Beyond age, other factors can render a victim legally incapable of consent, such as mental defects, mental incapacitation, or physical helplessness. Previous consensual acts may be admissible unless incapacity is due to age.


  • Developmental Disability: A significant disability manifesting before age 22, similar to mental retardation, affecting intellectual functioning or adaptive behavior.
  • Mental Disability: A substantial disorder of thought, mood, perception, or cognitive ability, significantly interfering with adaptive behavior. This excludes acute intoxication or antisocial behavior unless resulting in long-term substantial impairment.

Victims with mental illness or those deemed mentally or physically incapable are presumed legally unable to give consent, making consent inapplicable in these cases.

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