Colorado Supreme Court Ends Lifetime Sex Offender Requirement for Twice-Convicted Minors
In a recent ruling, the Colorado Supreme Court ended lifetime sex offender registration for twice-convicted minors. In People in the Interest of T.B., the Court assessed the constitutionality of this sex offender registration requirement under the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act and found that it constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. The Court stated that this requirement violates the Eighth Amendment.
What Did People in the Interest of T.B. Concern?
T.B. was convicted of two sexual offenses as a minor, one at the age of 11 and the other at the age of 15. Because he had been convicted twice, he was required to register as a sex offender for life, pursuant to the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act at C.R.S. §§ 16-22-101 through 16-22-115. T.B. completed his probation, which included treatment. He then petitioned the juvenile court to discontinue sex offender registration, pursuant to § 16-22-113. The court denied his petition.
He filed a second petition with juvenile court in 2015, claiming that mandatory lifetime sex offender registration for sex offenses committed as a juvenile violated due process and constituted cruel and unusual punishment. The court again denied T.B.’s petition.
In a split decision, the court of appeals reversed the juvenile court’s decision and held that mandatory lifetime sex offender registration constitutes punishment. The case was remanded to juvenile court for further proceedings. Both T.B. and the People petitioned the Colorado Supreme Court to review the case, and the Court granted both petitions.
What Was the Colorado Supreme Court’s Decision?
The two issues before the Colorado Supreme Court in this case were:
- Whether lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles with two adjudications (convictions) is punishment under the Eighth Amendment; and
- Whether lifetime sex offender registration for twice-adjudicated juveniles is cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment.
After consideration, the Court held that mandatory lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles is excessive and has punitive effects that outweigh the legislature’s nonpunitive intent in enacting the law. The Court also held that the Colorado Sex Offender Registration Act violates the prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment in the Eighth Amendment by requiring mandatory lifetime sex offender registration for juveniles twice-convicted of sex offenses without allowing for individual assessment or deregistration once rehabilitation has been demonstrated.
What Does the Court Mean When It Says Children Are Different Than Adults?
The Colorado Supreme Court began its analysis of the case by recognizing that children are different from adults. The Court stated that children have a tremendous capacity to change and reform. Many states recognize that, as a class, children who commit crimes are less blameworthy and have a greater capacity for change than adults.
Why Do You Need a Lawyer If a Juvenile in Your Family Has Been Accused of a Crime?
Juveniles are prosecuted differently than adults and face different penalties, but the consequences of a criminal offense can still be severe. With a child’s future well-being at stake, it is important to have an experienced Colorado Springs criminal defense lawyer on your side for a better chance of obtaining the best possible outcome.
Our legal team at The Bussey Law Firm, P.C. conducts thorough investigations to gather all the evidence and present it effectively for our clients. We will explore every avenue of defense and present a convincing case. Additionally, in handling juvenile criminal cases, we evaluate opportunities for rehabilitation and restorative justice, with the goal in mind of protecting our clients – now and in the future.
If your child has been accused of a crime, call us today at (719) 475-2555 to schedule a free consultation. We can explain your options under the law.