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Colorado sex offender registry under judicial spotlight

Colorado courts have long held that a juvenile’s placement on the state’s sex offender registry for a lifetime is not punishment.

A Colorado appellate court just altered the judiciary’s view on that in a case one informed commentator terms “very important.” The tribunal ruled that sex-offender registration does squarely equate to punishment.

Here’s why that ruling could be seminal in Colorado: It remands a matter back to a lower court for reconsideration that could fundamentally alter state law. The appeals court reference to punishment implicates the U.S. constitutional bar against cruel and unusual reprisals against individuals under the 8th Amendment.

The case in question involves a male who is now 29 years old. That individual was placed on the lifetime registry after being charged for two sexual offenses committed when he was a juvenile. Relevant evidence indicates that he has not had any criminal issues following those episodes. In fact, both his probation officer and a judge recommended that he be removed from the registry.

Under existing state law mandating lifelong registry for a juvenile with two sex offenses, that was a flat impossibility.

A wide swath of broad-based critics lambast that legislation, stating that it yields permanent and scarring effects on young offenders. Moreover, they point to a troth of empirical evidence showing the ineffectiveness of registries and the lasting pernicious outcome they have on young offenders.

We don’t mince words about that at Shazam & Kianpour Associates. We note on our criminal defense website the starkly adverse consequences attaching to an individual placed on the sex registry. They include “making it next to impossible to find employment and housing, and [they can] make you a pariah in your community.”

The reconsidered case will obviously be closely tracked in Colorado. We will keep readers duly informed of any material developments that occur.

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