In a 4-3 decision, the Colorado Supreme Court has ruled that a criminal defendant was entitled to his request to de-register as a sex offender because he completed the terms of his probationary sentence and therefore no longer had a conviction under the law.
A district court agreed with the prosecution, claiming that the “legislative intent” of the law was to bar even those with deferred sentences from de-registering in the state’s offender tracking system. The Colorado Court of Appeals also reached the same conclusion.
Justice Justice Monica M. Márquez, writing for the Supreme Court’s majority, explained that cases of deferred judgment are treated as a “conviction” while the defendant completes his probation, even though the court has postponed officially recording it as such. However, once he completes the terms of his sentence, he is no longer “convicted.”
Márquez pointed out that Colorado’s SORA prohibits those who “received a deferred judgment and sentence” from de-registering. The missing piece, she wrote, was that the law “does not expressly address successfully completed deferred judgments and sentences.”
Likewise, Márquez agreed that someone who “has” more than one conviction per the law is not identical to someone who “received” more than one conviction, regardless of what happened subsequent to that conviction. Under the prosecutors’ logic, she argued, anyone whose conviction was reversed on appeal might be precluded from de-registering because they technically received a conviction at some point.
The case is Brian Keith McCulley v. The People of the State of Colorado.