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Colorado’s Sex Offender Laws: The Nation’s Toughest – Understanding the Nature of an Indeterminate Sentence

In a 2005 Newspaper Article, a Colorado young reporter describes the 1998 law Colorado Sex Offender Lifetime Supervision Act (“Colorado’s lifetime supervision law” ) as one of the nation’s toughest on persons convicted of sex crimes.

The truth is that Colorado has the strictest Sex Offender Laws in the country.

Before 1998, people who were convicted of felony sex offenses were sentenced to a set number of years in prison or on probation. The 1998 Lifetime Supervision Act — alleged to have been passed in response to so called scientific ‘research” (which suggests that sex offenders can’t be cured — the “no cure”model) – requires offenders to get a minimum prison or probationary term and sets a life prison sentence as the maximum penalty.

The result? People sent to prison under the act are rarely released – release occurs when the Colorado Parole Board deems them ‘no longer a threat.”

Here are the most recent statistics:

The legislation enacting the Lifetime Supervision of sex offenders – CRS 18-1.3-1004, CRS 18-1.3-1006, and CRS 18-1.3-1008 – affected persons convicted of offenses committed on or after November 1, 1998, and the full effects are continuing to be realized since that time.

The first prison admission for the qualifying Lifetime Supervision sexual offenses occurred in the fall of 1999.

Through fiscal year (FY) 2008-2009, a total of 1,496 offenders have been sentenced to prison under the Lifetime Supervision provisions for sex offenses.

The following figures are by the earliest date sentenced for a lifetime supervision conviction as of June 30, 2009.

• 1 offender sentenced in FY 1998-1999;

• 48 offenders sentenced in FY 1999-2000;

• 111 offenders sentenced in FY 2000-2001;

• 145 offenders sentenced in FY 2001-2002;

• 167 offenders sentenced in FY 2002-2003;

• 170 offenders sentenced in FY 2003-2004;

• 171 offenders sentenced in FY 2004-2005;

• 185 offenders sentenced in FY 2005-2006;

• 194 offenders sentenced in FY 2006-2007;

• 159 offenders sentenced in FY 2007-2008; and

• 145 offenders sentenced in FY 2008-2009.

Of the 1,496 offenders sentenced to prison under the Lifetime Supervision provisions for sex offenses, 94 have discharged their sentence through June 30, 2009:

• 38 offenders released by court order;

• 31 offenders released to probation;

• 19 offenders died;

• 4 offenders released on an appeal bond; and

• 2 offenders had their sentence amended then released per Martin Cooper law.

Thirteen of the 94 offenders whose sentences were discharged later returned on the same offense(s) with the lifetime supervision sentence reinstated.

Several offenders have subsequently been re-sentenced to prison for a non-lifetime supervision sentence.

As of 2010, the number of inmates actually released from prison under the Lifetime Supervision Law has been extremely low and even if they released – they are literally followed – supervised for the rest of their lives, even on parole.

The Parole Board – made up of appointees are placed in an untenable position – take a chance on a sex offender committing a new crime or leave them in and protect the Parole Board’s reputation.

What this means is that judges who sentence a person for “lifetime sex offenses’ sentence only to the minimum sentence only. In Colorado, if the case “goes south” on the client – there is a very real possibility that the accused will spend the rest of their life in prison for a single offense.

At the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm, we understand how serious the consequences of certain sex offense convictions can be for you. When we represent a client who could be potentially facing a life prison sentence, we advocate tirelessly for that client. The legal and other costs are significant because the risks to the client are great for a mishandling of their case.

Our firm seeks out expert consultation when necessary, conducts an extensive investigation, and H. Michael is available 24 -7 for important concerns and to counsel and support when you need it.

The following information is provided to answer some common questions about indeterminate sentences for sex offenders:

How does an indeterminate sentence work?

When you are convicted of a sex offense which must be sentenced to an indeterminate sentence, a judge sets a particular minimum term for your sentence. After you complete that minimum term, which will be served in prison, you have a hearing before the Colorado State Parole Board. They decide whether to release you or set a new minimum term.

What follows is the mandatory and discretionary Colorado Sex Offenses requiring Lifetime Supervision:

I. Offenders who must be sentenced to an indeterminate term:

18-3-402 C.R.S. Sexual Assault; or Sexual Assault in the First Degree, as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

18-3-403 C.R.S. Sexual Assault in the Second Degree, as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

18-3-404(2) C.R.S. Felony Unlawful Sexual Contact; or Felony Sexual Assault in the Third Degree, as it existed prior to July 1, 2000

18-3-405 Sexual Assault on a Child

18-3-405.3 C.R.S. Sexual Assault on a Child by One in a Position of Trust

18-3-405.5(1) C.R.S. Aggravated Sexual Assault on a Client by a Psychotherapist

18-3-305 C.R.S. Enticement of a Child

18-6-301 C.R.S. Incest

18-6-302 C.R.S. Aggravated Incest

18-7-406 C.R.S. Patronizing a Prostituted Child

18-3-306(3) C.R.S. Class 4 Felony Internet Luring of a Child

18-3-405.4 C.R.S. Internet Sexual Exploitation of a Child

II. Offenders who may be sentenced to an indeterminate term if certain conditions are met were also included in this analysis.

18-6-402 C.R.S. Trafficking in Children

18-6-403 C.R.S. Sexual Exploitation of Children

18-6-404 C.R.S. Procurement of a Child for Sexual Exploitation

18-7-402 C.R.S. Soliciting for Child Prostitution

18-7-403 C.R.S. Pandering of a Child

18-7-403.5 C.R.S. Procurement of a Child

18-7-404 C.R.S. Keeping a Place of Child Prostitution

18-7-405 C.R.S. Pimping a Child

18-7-405.5 C.R.S. Inducement of Child Prostitution

Criminal attempts, conspiracies and solicitations of the above offenses, when the original charges were class 2, 3 or 4 felonies, were also included in the selection.

The Parole Board can continue to set terms up to the statutory maximum of the offense, which for certain crimes, is life in prison.

I’ve been charged with a sex offense that is eligible for an indeterminate sentence. How can you help me?

At the Steinberg Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm , we treat sex offenses where our clients are facing indeterminate sentences as the potential life sentences that they can be.

We conduct a thorough, extensive investigation of the underlying charges, consult with experts where necessary, and carefully comb through the case facts to evaluate and litigate as many legal issues as possible if that is the tactical course in the best interests of our clients.

Based on our careful work, we have had multiple successes in successfully defending theses cases from negotiating reductions to non-indeterminate offenses to actual dismissal of charges and not guilty verdicts.

H. Michael does not assign or “farm out” the case to an inexperienced associate lawyer – he personally defends each and every case and therefore limits the cases he will take to a set number.

H. Michael works closely with our clients to provide them the support, attention, and legal representation they deserve as they grapple with the possibility of devastating consequences.

H. Michael has always believed that the more you know about the charges against you and the criminal justice system, the better you can defend yourself and assist your attorney. To assist you we have gathered information regarding the State and Federal laws that govern sex crimes and domestic violence offenses, the defenses to these crimes, evaluation and treatment resources and a whole lot more.

Call 303-627-7777 during business hours – or the firm’s emergency cell 720-220-2277 or 24 hour pager 303-543-4433 for a free consultation or send us the evaluation form found on all of the firm’s websites with a brief description of your situation and concerns.


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___________________________
H. Michael Steinberg Esq.
Attorney and Counselor at Law
The Colorado Criminal Defense Law Firm of H. Michael Steinberg
A Denver, Colorado Lawyer Focused Exclusively On
Colorado Criminal Law For Over 30 Years.
DTC Quadrant Building
5445 DTC Parkway, Penthouse 4
Greenwood Village, Colorado, 80111
Primary Web Site:  http://www.HMichaelSteinberg.com
Colorado Criminal Law Blog:  www.Colorado-Criminal-Lawyer-Online.com
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