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Experienced Colorado Attorney on Failure to Register as Sex Offender

Experienced Colorado attorney explains how a mere intent to reside at a residence does not require a person to register as a sex offender.
People v. Griffin (Colo.App.2011) (discussing sufficiency of evidence in failure to register cases)

Facts: Mr. Griffin told the folks in Denver he intended to reside in Adams County at a specific residence. However, Mr. Griffin’s housing arrangements fell through, and he never moved to Adams County. The prosecution brought this charge based upon his statement to Denver that he intended to reside in Adams (and wasted thousands of dollars extraditing him from another state, and trying this garbage).

Issue: Whether ‘an intent to reside’ provides a sufficient basis to convict for failure to register when the person never actually resides at the intended residence?

Held: No. That is not a sufficient basis to convict.

Reasoning: The prosecution pulls out the statutory language that illustrates how to prove someone’s residence. The Colorado Court of Appeals stated, “But the People argue that ‘establish a residence’ has a special meaning under the registration act. Relying on sections 16-22-102(5.7) and -105(3), C.R.S.2010, they argue that a sex offender may ‘establish a residence’ merely by intending to live in a place.”

Thankfully, the appellate court wisely goes through the statute and opines how the prosecution mistakes the legislature’s guidance and intent. The appellate court wrote:

Section 16-22-105(3) states that an offender must register where he “establishes a residence,” and it provides information about how that intent may be proven: For purposes of this article, any person who is required to register pursuant to section 16-22-103 shall register in all jurisdictions in which he or she establishes a residence. A person establishes a residence through an intent to make any place or dwelling his or her residence. The prosecution may prove intent to establish residence by reference to hotel or motel receipts or a lease of real property, ownership of real property, proof the person accepted responsibility for utility bills, proof the person established a mailing address, or any other action demonstrating such intent. Notwithstanding the existence of any other evidence of intent, occupying or inhabiting any dwelling for more than fourteen days in any thirty-day period shall constitute the establishment of residence. (Emphasis added.) We conclude that this provision does not obviate the need for physical presence or occupancy. Rather, it distinguishes the kind of occupancy that requires registration from the kind that does not. 2 Thus, contrary to the People’s view, we conclude that the emphasized language does not require a sex offender to register where he merely intends to live.

(Citation omitted)

***Commentary contributed by Eric Sims Jr., Esq.***

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