H. Michael Steinberg has over 32 years experience practicing Colorado criminal law. Mr. Steinberg strives to stay current with the ever changing aspects of criminal law issues and updates resulting in his extensive knowledge of successful criminal defense as well as appellate work. He is also an active member of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar Association, the Colorado Trial Lawyer's Association, and the Colorado and Arapahoe Bar Associations.
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A Recent – 2011 Colorado Case – Points Up the Lack of Analysis in the Sentencing of Colorado’s Sex Crimes Cases

An article – written by Monte Whaley – appearing in the Denver Post in August of 2011 entitled – “Sentencing disparities in child-sex-assault cases point to double standard” confronts the insanity of Colorado’s Sex Offender Sentencing Laws
The article began with this statement “Women in Colorado convicted of sexually assaulting a child in their care are far less likely to go to prison than men sentenced for the same crime.”

The Post did a comprehensive analysis of publicly available sentencing data provided by the Colorado Judicial Branch.

The data demonstrated that “of the 2,128 men convicted of sexual assault on a child by a person in a position of trust from 2006 through 2010, more than 50 percent were sent to prison.”

However, “of the 79 women convicted of the same felony offense, 38 percent went to prison. A little more than 39 percent of female defendants in that same period 31were put on intensive supervised probation. Less than 35 percent of men were given the same sentence.”

Analysis Focused on male and female teachers, coaches, babysitters and others who are considered to be in a sexual assault on a child and who are in a “position of trust.”

With women, the victim is often a young or teen male in her charge, and too often the abuse is seen as less traumatic and almost a badge of honor for the boy, said forensic psychologist Katherine Ramsland.

Several studies uncovered by the Post demonstrate that males molested by female caregivers run a huge risk of becoming sex offenders in adulthood… and that women who molest boys are most likely victims of abuse themselves.

Woman-on- boy crimes are not reported at all, due in part to the media.

Prosecutors say they focus on recividism rates:

All things being equal including prior history – prosecutors focus on the likelihood of recidivism.

The Post story referenced a 2005 study shows that females convicted of a sexual offense repeat the same offense only about 1 percent of the time. The recidivism rate for male sex offenders is 13.4 percent.

Larimer County DA Larry Abrahamson points to the criteria that DA’s view as important.

“You look at the charges, you look at the level of threat that individual is causing the community and if that person is subjecting the victim to pretty significant trauma. You have to look at all of those factors,” Abrahamson said.

The Colorado SOMB ( Sex Offender Management Board ) psycho-sexual evaluation is critical here.

In Colorado – in negotiating this deadly road – the Colorado criminal defense attorney – attempting to defend a clear case of sexual assault on a child – will refer their clients to a State Certified Colorado Sex Offender (SOMB Approved) evaluator. The purpose of this intense and difficult evaluation is to help determine the true “risk” a sex offender presents to the community. The report – generated by this evaluation – have a great bearing on the negotiating process.

“Those responses can determine what kind of punishment level you are seeking,” Abrahamson said.

H. Michael’s Take

All Colorado criminal defense lawyers who defend these cases are locked into the draconian Colorado sex offender laws passed in the late 1990’s.

These laws, opposed by many – if not most – of Colorado District Court judges – take away the right of a judge to utiliize his/her experience and given authority to determine a sentence commensurate with the nature of the crime. These laws lock judges into a “one size fits all” method of pursuing and convicting sex offenders, both men and women.